Pair jailed for their roles in a ‘new era of drug dealing’

A bitcoin trader and a film technician have been jailed for running an online global operation described as “a new era in drug dealing”.
Pair jailed for their roles in a ‘new era of drug dealing’

Neil Mannion and Richard O’Connor, both aged 34, were charged with possessing drugs worth €143,000 following a Garda raid on a business premises in south Dublin in October 2014.

Detective Sergeant Brian Roberts compared the operation of selling drugs on the “dark net” to eBay or Amazon, saying: “It’s a new phenomenon that’s growing and ultimately the modern era of drug dealing.”

Mannion, of Mount Drummond Avenue, Harold’s Cross, Dublin, and O’Connor, of Clonskeagh Rd, Clonskeagh, Dublin, both pleaded guilty to possession of LSD, amphetamine, and cannabis resin with intent to sell or supply at Bank House Business Centre, South Circular Rd, on November 5, 2014. Neither man had any previous convictions.

Judge Martin Nolan imposed a six-and-a-half-year term on Mannion who he called “the brains of the operation”. He said that, unlike most people before the court, who were drug carriers or mules, Mannion owned and sold the drugs and sourced the customers.

He imposed a three-year sentence on O’Connor, who he said was acting under Mannion’s instructions in return for a weekly wage.

Judge Nolan said it was an unusual case because the drugs were sold online using the “deep net” to countries around the world.

“It may seem that committing crimes on the internet is somewhat easier than selling drugs on the street,” he said. “It gives the impression of invulnerability and the impression that the crime is less serious but it’s not. These two sold drugs to third parties for profit.”

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard former Eircom worker Mannion had set up the online drug-dealing business and O’Connor was paid up to €600 a week to post packages to customers in the likes of Japan, Argentina, Czech Republic, and the US.

The court heard that O’Connor, self-employed as a grip in the film industry, had a “secondary part” as he had only been involved with posting and packaging the drugs.

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