A DOCTOR who carried out illegal drug deals via the dark web of the internet has been handed a five-year prison sentence.

Shoaib Ahmad, previously of Dale Road, Halesowen was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday, December 11 for the offences, which he carried out over a 12-month period from July 2016 until his arrest in August 2017.

Ahmad had served prison time in France for related drug offences and was on remand for two years prior to sentencing.

An investigation into the 41-year-old medical practitioner’s involvement in the illegal enterprise began in early 2017 when West Midlands Police intercepted a package containing drugs addressed to a rented mailbox in Birmingham.

Although rented under a different name, the mailbox was paid for through Ahmad’s bank account, and was one of several across the West Midlands that he rented under various names, police said. 

Ahmad used the mailboxes to receive shipments of drugs, which he then sold to others.

Ahmad conducted his trade in drugs including ecstasy, cannabis and fake versions of the anxiety-reducing medication Xanax on the dark web – the part of the worldwide web that can only be accessed by specialist software – where users can hide their identities to carry out illegal activity.

Ahmad operated under the pseudonyms “Imperial Storm Trooper” and “IST” and carried out his transactions using the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

Officers estimate that he made over £250,000 during the year that he was trading.

Dudley News: Ecstasy tablets seized during the investigationEcstasy tablets seized during the investigation (Image: West Midlands Police)

Ahmad was also linked to another drug dealer, Portsmouth-based Marc Ward, who was arrested by the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit in June 2017.

Ward was part of a drugs gang who likewise dealt under different aliases on various marketplaces on the dark web.

Announcing plans to “retire” from dealing on one of these sites, Ward revealed that Ahmad’s alter-ego, the Imperial Storm Trooper, was among several suppliers who would be taking over his trade in counterfeit Xanax.

Following Ward’s arrest, Ahmad travelled to France in August 2017, crossing into Belgium to the Netherlands.

On his return to France, he was searched by French border officers who found him carrying 46kg of ecstasy tablets with a street value of just over 615,000 euros.

Ahmad was arrested, charged and subsequently sentenced to six years in prison in France.

The French authorities shared information about Ahmad’s arrest with West Midlands Police.

Officers searched his home address in Halesowen where a variety of drugs along with digital devices were found.

Ahmad was extradited from France to the UK in July 2021 and was placed on remand awaiting trial.

He pleaded guilty on June 28 this year and was jailed for a total of 17 offences relating to possession and intent to supply controlled substances.

Detective Constable Holly Percival from the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit’s cyber-crime team said: “To the outside world Shoaib Ahmad was a respected professional and very far from most people’s idea of a drug dealer.

"Behind the scenes however, within the secretive community operating on the dark web, he was heavily involved in selling illegal drugs.

"As a registered medical practitioner, Ahmad knew well the dangers these drugs posed but he had little regard for others, only for his own profit.

"He also thought he was beyond our reach, acting under the cloak of anonymity on the dark web, but we are as relentless in our pursuit of those who carry out crimes in cyberspace as we are tackling those who offend on the streets.

"We have the technical expertise and resource to take on these criminals and we are determined to disrupt the drug trades wherever it takes place.

"Ahmad’s capture is testament to our resolve."