A man that has reportedly sold over $17 million AUD worth of drugs has been prosecuted. The Australian citizen was using the dark-web to distribute his supply. He has been sentenced to prison for 14 years, at-least 10 without parole.
The 27 year old defendant, Cody Ward plead guilty back in 2020. The court issued charges concerning illegal activity, and the import of large quantities of drugs. The controlled substances have been disguised as confectionery and shipped using Australia Post.
Australian authorities consider this operation a huge success, and one of the largest of its kind. As authorities stated, this is the 'first and biggest penetration of the dark-web' in the country.
While the man was in his beach Callala beach residence on the New South Wales coast in early 2019, authorities raided him. During his arrest agents from the Australian drug enforcement unit seized all types of drugs. It was mentioned that all drugs were present in commercial amounts. This included MDMA, 2,5kg of cocaine, amphetamine, 100,000 LSD tabs and Xanax disguised a lollipops. Additionally police found around $80,000 AUD in cash. Computers and cash counting machines were also seized.
Alongside ward, his accomplices have also been apprehended. This includes his siblings, Patricia Koullias and shanese - aged 20 and 24.
Shanese, who is Ward's main accomplice was sentenced earlier this year. She was handed an eight year prison sentence. She was sentenced with the condition that the possibility of parole is only present after 4 years.
Patricia, the younger of the two siblings was only sentenced to three years behind bars. Her sentence was handed out in December of 2019. She is only subject to a 22 month period without parole.
A Surprise to Prosecutors
Something that came as a surprise to everyone is that Ward and his lawyer put very little effort in covering up the situation. The lawyer admitted that his client run a low-tech drug organization. He admitted that this involved the purchase of fake identification documents and a shipment address.
According to law enforcement, Wards arrest led officers them to his assets. He owned a $70,000 Mercedes Benz, a $7,000 Maserati and a Mitsubishi Evo that he purchased for $15,000.
The defendants court case took an unexpected and interesting turn. Judge Robyn Tupman came to a weird conclusion. He established that the man did no distribute drugs for financial gain. It was found that instead Ward reportedly run his business for online acceptance. It was said that Ward thought this opportunity would give him 'acceptance and notoriety'.
As it turns our, the profits from the drug ring happened to be the 'secondary benefit'. This comes as the man valued the 'sense of community' that the online eco-system provided. The judge learnt that the desire to seek validation online was an outcome of social anxiety. The source of anxiety was pegged on the mans past and troubled history. Reportedly ward was a big victim of bullying at school.
The judge then noted how Ward became a drug addict and had built an alternative cybercriminal ego. His actions reflected the thoughts and behavior of an individual who had little regard for the moral consequences.
While defending Ward, his lawyer went on to tell the judge that his client is not a 'drug lord'. He petitioned that the court pays attention to the mans young age and the lack of past criminal records. Additionally, Wards lawyer asked the judge to consider rehabilitation for his client.
The Prosecutors Strike Back
The prosecution team was quick to strike back at Ward. They asserted their argument against the defendant, noting his sudden change in character. The prosecutors also challenged the defense for claiming that the drugs were not sold for money. They argued that although this could have served as an entry point, the main motivation was monetary.
Considering ward has sold over $17 million AUD worth of drugs, the prison sentence handed is not too bad. Taking the drugs seized into account the defendant was treated relatively well. It is unclear if the attempt to blame anxiety helped reduce the sentence but it is very likely.