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'Breaking Bad' Fan Jailed for Trying to Buy Ricin on the Dark Web

Mohammed Ali, who first heard about the deadly poison while watching 'Breaking Bad,' then attempted to buy ricin online. Today he was sentenced at London’s Old Bailey Court to eight years in prison.

by VICE News
Sep 18 2015, 4:00pm

Photo by Eric Draper/EPA

Breaking Bad fan has today been jailed for eight years after being found guilty of ordering ricin online, inspired by the hit US drama.

Mohammed Ali, 31, who attempted to buy the deadly poison from the dark web was sentenced at London's Old Bailey Court, having been found guilty of attempting to possess a chemical weapon.

The software programmer from Liverpool, England, sought to buy 500mg of the lethal agent at a cost of $500, said to be enough to kill 1,400 people.

The father of two, under the online alias of "Weirdos 0000," contacted a supplier, with whom he stuck the deal.

Ali, however, was unaware that the contact was actually an FBI agent who tipped off British police and sent him five vials of harmless powder, hidden inside the battery compartment of a toy car.

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After opening the package, which contained a marker substance, Ali was arrested the next morning. Under ultraviolet light Ali's face lit up which indicated that he had been handling the ersatz ricin supplied by the authorities.

The court heard that Ali has first heard about ricin while watching Breaking Bad, in which the protagonist Walter White uses ricin to deadly effect.

During sentencing, Mr. Justice Saunders Ali stated, "It seems to me that this is the sort of case where a deterrent sentence has to be passed," before adding, "everyone needs to know that the possession of a chemical weapon is extremely serious and long prison sentences will follow."

Ali, who has been diagnosed with mild autistic traits, claimed he was simply "curious" and wanted to test the boundaries of the dark web.

He told jurors he was unaware that ricin was illegal and stated that in his online searches, he "found lots of different items ranging from drugs, guns, other illegal items, and because I had been watching the Breaking Bad TV show I just had ricin in my mind."

Analysis of Ali's computer showed that he started his search for poisons in October 2014, looking into abrin, ricin, and cyanide. These searches included contacting an undercover agent in January to enquire about the possibility having some ricin sent to the UK.

During a series of encrypted messages, they discussed the price, shelf life and lethal doses of ricin, at one point Ali even enquired how ricin could be tested, to which he received the message, "you must test it on a rodent."

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The court was told that in this same period records show that Ali created a wish list which included, "pay ricin guy" and "get pet to murder." He also began making searches for chinchillas, animal rescue centers, and rabbits.

During sentencing Ali is reported to have stood expressionless, however a woman, believed to be a family member, was heard wailing in the public gallery.

Justice Saunders told the court: "I am satisfied that Mohammed Ali had no intention of disposing of ricin immediately. He intended to keep it. That created a real risk that, at some stage in the future, he might decide to experiment with it or it fall into the wrong hands."

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