Harborough drug dealer jailed for eight years made almost £2million from his crimes

Paul Johnson was caught with over £300,000 worth of Bitcoins

A Market Harborough drug dealer jailed for eight years made almost £2million from his crimes, it’s emerged.

Paul Johnson, 32, pocketed the staggering sum from his ill-gotten gains after he was caught with over £300,000 worth of Bitcoins, it’s been disclosed.

Johnson, of Northampton Road, Harborough, was locked up at Leicester Crown Court in February after setting up a slick worldwide criminal racket.

Paul Johnson

He was arrested after police swooped on his home in December 2017.

Officers seized a stash of drugs, including MDMA tablets, LSD, heroin and ketamine, as well as other drugs paraphernalia.

Digital media investigators also on the lightning raid trapped stunned Johnson red-handed – as he actively traded with Bitcoins on his laptop.

Crack cryptocurrency expert Sgt Phil Ariss, of Leicestershire Police, has now revealed: “More than £300,000 worth of Bitcoins were recovered from the scene and it is believed he benefited by nearly £2million from his crimes.”

Crack cryptocurrency expert Sgt Phil Ariss of Leicestershire Police

The police cybercrime specialist added: “In the case of Paul Johnson, who was jailed for eight years for trafficking drugs online, the investigating officers identified Bitcoins were being used.

“They contacted me before they executed the warrant at his home address.

“We were able to advise the officers on what to look out for.

“Digital media investigators accompanied officers on the warrant.

“They were able to identify that Johnson kept his Bitcoins in an encrypted ‘wallet’ behind a 20-character password.”

Cunning Johnson used three properties he was renting as the delivery addresses in a highly-organised operation as he busily trafficked drugs from around the world.

The hi-tech villain used his loft at his Harborough home to weigh and package the drugs before posting them out to customers.

Johnson was jailed after he admitted supplying class A and B drugs, possession with intent to supply class A drugs, improper importation of goods – class A and B drugs – to the UK and five counts of money laundering.

Sgt Ariss was seconded to the police’s East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) Cybercrime Team four years ago.

He’s carried out extensive research into the increasing use of Bitcoins in criminality.

In 2018 Sgt Ariss joined the National Police Chief Council’s (NPCC) Cybercrime programme.

He’s now a key part of an elite team backing up forces across the country by coordinating training, offering guidance and providing resources.

Sgt Ariss has worked with forces nationally and internationally, spoken at many conferences and delivered training to forces with cybercrime units.

“I joined the force a number of years ago and worked as a neighbourhood officer in Loughborough.

“When I became an officer I never thought it would lead me to specialise in this field.

“What we do within the team makes a difference to modern policing,” said the trailblazing cybercrime cop.

“The way we police is not just confined to the streets.

“It’s now in every home through the guise of technology.

“For all its benefits there is also a risk that it can be misused in the wrong hands.

“I have learnt a huge amount about how criminals use this as a means to attempt to remain anonymous.

“It’s not just been used in the illegal drugs market but in other areas including cybercrime, fraud and blackmail.

“Unlike other traditional banking services, or money transfer providers, Bitcoin is not controlled by any government or corporate entity.

“This makes it an attractive proposition for those wanting increased privacy in their criminal behaviour.

“As more and more criminals turn to using Bitcoins and other methods of financial privacy, it is important we know what to look out for.

“We regularly train officers and staff about the signs of its usage, denying criminals the opportunity to benefit financially.”