Judge Roger Hetherington sentenced 26-year-old Kurt Lailan to 16 years in prison for selling thousands of ecstasy pills on darknet marketplaces under the name “StoneIsland.” Officers from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) caught Lailan on May 10, 2016, after intercepting almost 10,000 ecstasy pills Lailan and his father had imported from Holland.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard how the man, together with his father Ralph Lailan, had operated a “sophisticated” darknet vending business. Lailan had, according to the testimony, was given by the man’s mother, “no education” until the business with his father. The two started selling ecstasy on the darknet at some point in 2013 and continued until SEROCU raided their home. The court heard how Lailan had attempted to throw a USB flash drive over the garden wall and into his neighbor’s yard. Footage from the raid also showed Lailan attempting to hide a laptop. SEROCU officers, as one might have suspected, managed to retrieve both the laptop and the flash drive.
According to SEROCU investigators, Lailan and his father sold on several darknet markets, including Agora, Nucleus, Hansa, and Alphabay. The “Stone Island” PGP key connects the vendor duo to the usernames “StoneIsland1,” “Stone Island+,” and “Tony Soprano999.”
In 2014, 19-year-old Tori Lakeman and 20-year-old Jacques Lakeman overdosed on MDMA they had allegedly purchased from StoneIsland on Agora, investigators discovered during an investigation into the overdoses. Lailan’s lawyer argued that no “causal link” existed between his client and the two overdoses. Judge Hetherington chose to focus on the full extent of the drug trafficking—specifically the scale of the operation and money earned through the online drug trade.
The court never heard the full financial details, but prosecutors shared one piece of information with the court during an 11-day trial where the court found Lailan guilty of numerous drug distribution crimes. During his three-year operation as StoneIsland, accounts shared by the father and son had unexplained deposits that totalled more than $450,000. Lailan’s father had flown to South Africa after the arrest, and the court heard how the 26-year-old had attempted to make the same getaway. During the 11-day trial, the prosecutor explained that authorities had captured Lailan on June 6, 2017, at the Gatwick Airport.
According to the description given by the prosecutor, Lailan, at the time of his Gatwick Airport arrest, had attempted to fly to South Africa while wearing a pair of Stone Island jeans. Judge Hetherington was not amused with Lailan’s affinity for luxurious outfits and accessories—or pricey ones, if not truly luxurious. “[After exchanging Bitcoin for fiat currency], you then removed your ill-gotten gains in cash and spent it on high-end living, designer clothes and jewellery and cars and the like,” the judge said. At one of the hotel rooms Lailan stayed at after getting bailed out, the police found 34 different pairs of so-called “high end shoes.” He had several Rolex watches valued at $10,000 or more, the court said. The judge found none of this amusing.
Judge Hetherington sentenced the younger Lailan to 16 years in prison.
“No matter how clever or devious you think you might be by utilising encryption, the darknet marketplaces and cryptocurrency, the expertise of the SEROCU and tenacity of our officers will ensure that we come after you and bring you to justice,” Detective Inspector Neil Cripps of SEROCU said.