Illicit drugs allegedly seized in Darwin as part of a joint investigation into a nationwide criminal network. Picture: Supplied/Australian Federal Police
Illicit drugs allegedly seized in Darwin as part of a joint investigation into a nationwide criminal network. Picture: Supplied/Australian Federal Police

Teen faces court over alleged dark web drug network

A DARWIN teenager has faced court on a string of drug charges following a joint investigation into a nationwide criminal network allegedly using the dark web to traffic illicit drugs.

 

Aaron Plant, 19, was due to appear in the Darwin Local Court on Thursday but will spend the weekend on remand after his lawyer was unable to contact him following rioting at Holtze Prison overnight.

Police from the NT Joint Organised Crime Taskforce will allege Plant had arrived at an address in Darwin to collect a parcel of 230g of MDMA when he was arrested on Tuesday.

Investigators then raided his Wagaman home where they seized what they allege to be a variety of dangerous drugs - including heroin, methamphetamine, cannabis, LSD and MDMA - and more than $10,000 in suspected proceeds of crime.

Police will allege the drugs were paid for using digital currency via the dark web to avoid detection by authorities.

Plant was expected to appear in court via video link on Thursday but NT Legal Aid lawyer Josh Bach said he had been unable to take instructions from him due to the ongoing lockdown at Holtze.

Mr Bach requested the shortest adjournment possible but with no guarantee the prison would be out of lockdown by the weekend, judge John Neill said that would be no sooner than Tuesday.

Plant's parents and brother were present in court and addressing them directly, Mr Neill explained that due to the nature of the more serious charges the case would likely progress to the Supreme Court.

Plant's court appearance follows the arrest of another 23-year-old Darwin man on April 22 who was allegedly involved in similar offending but the two men are not suspected of acting together.

AFP Superintendent Matthew Ballard said the joint operation showed that authorities were continuing to shine a light on the dark web and the illegal drug trade.

"This investigation shows that criminal activity conducted online has serious consequences in the real world," he said.

"While criminal networks are looking for ways to circumnavigate COVID-19 travel restrictions, authorities will adapt as required to protect the NT community and ensure perpetrators face the full force of the law.

"The AFP and our partners will not allow criminal networks to target Territorians and profit from the pain these insidious drugs cause to our community."



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