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Florida man sentenced to 110 months in prison for sale and smuggling of deadly toxins

and smuggling of deadly toxins and for his role in an international murder conspiracy

TRENTON, N.J. – A Florida man was sentenced on Wednesday to 110 months in prison for producing and selling potentially deadly toxins: ricin and abrin for use as weapons and conspiring to kill a woman in the United Kingdom. The guilty plea follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Jesse William Korff, 19, of LaBelle, Florida, pleaded guilty on August 12, 2014, 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. Federal agents arrested Korff on January 18, 2014, in Florida.

Korff sold the toxins through an underground, Internet-based marketplace known as “Black Market Reloaded” (BMR).

“This sentence should serve as a warning to those who capitalize from the use of underground websites such as BMR,” said John P. Woods, acting special agent in charge of HSI Newark. “HSI will maintain its unrelenting commitment to protecting our land borders as well as virtual borders from individuals like Korff. Anyone who mistakenly thinks that they can get away with these types of crimes by hiding in the endless depths of the internet must know that HSI will seek them out and bring them to justice.”

“Jesse Korff peddled his poison in a shadowy, online network favored by cybercriminals. He also offered guidance on its effective use, and his sentence today appropriately took account of his participation with an overseas customer in an attempted murder plot,” said Paul J. Fishman, United States attorney.  “Fortunately, law enforcement was able to intercede before Korff could conclude his deadly transaction.”

“Jesse Korff acquired abrin and ricin, potentially lethal toxins, through an underground internet-based marketplace, so they could be used for deadly purposes,” Richard M. Frankel, FBI Special Agent in Charge, Newark, said. “Thankfully, with the coordinated efforts of our law enforcement partners, and the tactical and technical expertise of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, he was intercepted and his potentially deadly threats did not become a reality.”

According to court documents, in April 2013 HSI Newark special agents began investigating illicit sales activity on an underground Internet marketplace known as “Black Market Reloaded” (BMR). The website provided a platform for vendors and buyers to conduct anonymous online transactions involving biological agents, toxins, firearms, ammunition, explosives, narcotics and counterfeit items.

From Aug. 2013 through Jan. 2014 Korff maintained a seller’s profile on BMR under the screen name “Snowman840.” He advertised the sale of deadly toxins and provided his prospective purchasers with information about quantities necessary to kill a person of a given weight, along with instructions on how to secretly administer the toxin to avoid suspicion. Korff sold ricin and abrin to international purchasers in India, Austria, Denmark and the United Kingdom. He smuggled the toxins from Florida to the international purchasers by concealing the toxins in packages sent through the U.S. Postal Service.

On at least one occasion in December 2013, Korff agreed to produce, and ultimately provided, a quantity of abrin to a purchaser in London who intended to poison and kill an individual she claimed was her mother. After the purchaser’s receipt and administration of the initial dose, which was ineffective, Korff agreed to provide a second quantity of the toxin in order to assist the purchaser in the implementation of the murder plot.

Before Korff had an opportunity to smuggle the second dose of abrin to the London purchaser, an HSI undercover agent contacted Korff through BMR and commenced negotiations for the sale of two liquid doses of abrin. During their online conversations, Korff told the agent about his delivery methods – concealing vials in a carved-out and re-melted candle – and discussed how much abrin was needed to kill a person of a particular weight and how best to administer the toxin. Korff also assured the agent that a victim’s poisoning symptoms would mimic a bad case of the flu, subsequently resulting in death. Korff claimed that the toxin would not ordinarily be detected in an autopsy.

Korff and the agent agreed on a total purchase price of $2,500 for two doses of the poison, which was intended to be smuggled from Florida, through New Jersey, en route to a destination in Canada. Korff designated a prearranged location for the transfer of the toxins, and e-mailed the agent pictures of a specific spot at a rest stop approximately 10 miles outside Fort Myers, Florida, where he planned to leave a package containing the abrin.

On the arranged day, Korff dropped off a fast food bag containing two wax candles at the location. Another HSI undercover agent collected the bag and left behind the required payment. Law enforcement had Korff under surveillance throughout the transaction and Korff was later arrested.

Subsequent forensic analysis of the liquid contained within the vials revealed the presence of active abrin. Even a small dose of the toxin is potentially lethal to humans if ingested, inhaled or injected – causing death within 36 to 72 hours from the time of exposure.

Following Korff’s arrest, law enforcement agents conducted an exhaustive, three day search of Korff’s property. As a result of those efforts, federal agents recovered several computers, castor beans, rosary peas, capsules, vials, jars, syringes, filters, respirators and other items commonly utilized in the manufacture, production, sale, packaging, and shipping of toxins and chemical substances, as well as numerous firearms. Among the items recovered was the second liquid dose of abrin that Korff had intended to ship to the London purchaser. Significantly, information and evidence obtained by U.S. law enforcement agents in this case was shared with, and successfully used by authorities in England, Denmark, and Austria to disrupt related criminal activities in those nations.

In addition to the prison term, Korff was sentenced to five years of supervised release and a fine of $1,000.

Author: Matrix Today
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