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Wannabe Intelligence Agent Claims Buying a Gun on the Dark Web Was 'Research'

He got caught by the same agency he said he wanted to apply to join.
Image: arda savasciogullari/Shutterstock

A man who pleaded guilty to purchasing a gun from the dark web has a truly bizarre excuse for his activity, claiming that his dark web exploits were part of an attempt to land a job at the very agency that arrested him.

On Thursday, Darren Hillyer, 38, from Milton Keynes, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import a firearm and ammunition at Bristol Crown Court, according to a press release from the National Crime Agency (NCA), which is essentially the UK's version of the FBI.


Judging by the release, Hillyer's story started in a strange manner, and just got weirder.

Hillyer, using the name "Emma," "posed as a woman aiming to exact revenge on a paedophile ex-lover," writes the NCA. He then attempted to purchase a Ruger LC9 9mm pistol and 50 rounds of ammunition from a vendor on a dark web forum. The site was not named.

But it turns out that the package supposedly containing the weapon was instead a plastic replica, which was "under the control of officers from the National Crime Agency."

The NCA tracked down Hillyer, who said in an interview with the agency that his actions on the dark web were part of research to help him apply for a job at the NCA. Hillyer's colleagues reportedly described him as a "fantasist," and claimed he said he worked for the intelligence and security services.

Hillyer will be sentenced on 30 October, along with a man named Ian MacPhee, who accepted the package on Hillyer's behalf.

An NCA spokesperson said that the operation to arrest Hillyer had been led by the agency, but would neither confirm nor deny the involvement of law enforcement from the US.

In May, news emerged of an undercover operation which started with US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and eventually led to the arrest of at least one person from the UK.