Florida man pleads guilty to selling mail-order poison to global customers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 9:42pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 August, 2014, 3:22am

A Florida man has pleaded guilty to making deadly toxins and shipping them to customers across the globe, among them a British woman plotting to kill her mother, who is a London magistrate, US authorities said.

Jesse Korff, 19, of LaBelle, about 130km northwest of Miami, marketed the toxins ricin and abrin through an illegal internet site called Black Market Reloaded, which facilitated the sale of illegal goods with the digital currency bitcoin, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Korff packaged his poisons in glass vials which he hid in hollowed-out wax candles, mailed along with instructions for use through the US Postal Service, prosecutors said.

He was caught in a federal sting of the illicit online marketplace in January and pleaded guilty in federal court in the state of New Jersey to five counts of developing, producing, transferring and possessing toxins, five counts of smuggling toxins and one count of conspiring to kill a person in a foreign country.

He faces up to life in prison and is set to be sentenced in November.

Aside from the London transaction, Korff also made sales in 2013 to customers in New Delhi, Vienna and Ryomgand, Denmark, with the fate of the poison in those cases unknown, said Matthew Reilly, from the New Jersey federal prosecutor's office.

One of Korff's alleged customers, Kuntal Patel, was arrested in January on charges of slipping abrin into the Diet Coke of her mother, who sits as a magistrate in London, British media reported at the time.

Korff sent a US$700 batch of abrin to Patel in London in December 2013, but was told by Patel that her mother failed to die, Reilly said.

He was preparing to send a second dose of the poison to Patel in January when he was arrested, prosecutors said.