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Benjamin Sagnelli Sentenced for Importing Drugs on Dark Web

An "immature" MDMA dealer who used his own name and Canberra address to import party drugs from Europe through the dark web has avoided time behind bars. Benjamin Tony Sagnelli was only 18 when, in April 2018, Australian Border Force officers intercepted an envelope addressed to him and destined for his home in Deakin.

Inside the delivery, which had come from the Netherlands, they found 200 MDMA tablets concealed within two heat-sealed packages. Two months later, officers at the same Sydney border facility intercepted another envelope that had been en route to Sagnelli. This one, which had come from Poland, contained a marketable quantity of LSD sheets. Sagnelli's highly unsophisticated methods put him squarely in the sights of police, who pulled him over in July 2018. Inside the teenager's car, officers found envelopes similar to those intercepted at the border.

They were postmarked and Poland, and one contained a heat-sealed bag that had been opened. Sagnelli later unlocked his smartphone for police at their request, allowing officers to discover "numerous text messages pertaining to the importation and trafficking of drugs". Examinations of the device revealed that Sagnelli had bought more than $7000 worth of Bitcoin from a local trader, then used the cryptocurrency to purchase drugs from shadowy corners of the internet using an onion browser. The phone showed he had also sold at least 300 ecstasy pills to a total of three buyers.

Sagnelli, who was working at a Kingston cafe at the time of his offending, ultimately pleaded guilty to two counts of importing a marketable quantity of a border-controlled drug and one count of trafficking in MDMA. The now 20-year-old, who had no prior criminal history, was described in the ACT Supreme Court at a sentence hearing on Monday as "immature". Justice David Mossop took this into account when sparing Sagnelli time in custody, telling the young man he had "dodged a bullet" because most people who had committed the same crimes were not afforded that sort of leniency.

The judge on Tuesday sentenced Sagnelli to two years in jail, but ordered that the term be served in the community by way of an intensive correction order.


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