The details of a case involving an FBI sting on the darknet have been ordered to be kept under seal by federal Magistrate Judge Paige Gossett. The sting allegedly helped bring down a plot to order a mail bomb through the darknet. It is believed to be the first case in the state of South Carolina involving the FBI and the darknet. FBI agent Matthew Desmond was questioned by attorney Jim Griffin, who represents one of the accused. Griffin asked agent Desmond about who made the bomb and where it came from, but agent Desmond declined to answer. Griffin is trying to figure out what the FBI did that would have made a South Carolina Department of Corrections inmate believe he was ordering a mail bomb. Attorney Jim Griffin told Judge Gossett that he needed to know if there was any real danger and whether or not the whole thing was made up by the FBI.
Griffin tried to show that some of the details in the case were known to the public, he pointed to a newspaper article that appeared in The State. Judge Gossett refused to make FBI agent Matthew Desmond answer Griffin’s questions. The prosecuting attorney Will Lewis agreed with Judge Gossett that records detailing what happened in the case should be sealed, keeping them from being known to the public. The judge also denied bond for one of the suspects, 21-year-old Tyrell Fears. The judge said that Fears would pose a danger to his ex-wife Shauna Bell, the intended target of the mail bomb. Fears is being charged along with two other men, 35-year-old Vance “Dank” Voulious Jr. and 31-year-old Michael Young. The three men are accused of conspiring to commit homicide with the mail bomb. A minor only identified by the initials V.M. is also part of the case, but it is not known if any formal charges are being filed.
Michael Young is currently serving a sentence of 50 years after he was convicted of murdering his ex-wife’s father, Robert Bell, while also injuring his ex-wife, Shauna Bell, in the 2011 shooting. Young is currently trying to get a new trial. Shauna Bell would be a key witness at a new trial for Michael Young. This may have been the motive for trying to kill her with a mail bomb, to eliminate her as a potential witness at a new trial. Tyrell Fears is Michael Young’s nephew.
“This should give evil people pause before they order illegal things off the Internet, because they might in fact be ordering from the government,” a source with the FBI told The State. During testimony new allegations were made, such as that Michael Young accessed the darknet from a smart phone smuggled into prison. From this illegal phone, Young is alleged to have ordered the mail bomb from the darknet. It is not known if the FBI was running a fake site that claimed to sell explosives, or if the FBI had hacked into the site. Law enforcement allege that Michael Young was also running a business importing drugs into South Carolina during his time as an inmate in prison. It is possible he was ordering drugs from the darknet using his smuggled smartphone.
The package was mailed through the US Postal Service, and was sent to the minor, known in court documents as V.M., who received the package on June 5th. V.M. signed for the package using a fake name. The package contained information on how to assemble the bomb. The bomb that the men had received was said to not be dangerous enough to harm anyone, and that it only contained small traces of RDX, a military grade explosive. At the time the FBI was monitoring the phone calls of all the men involved. V.M. gave Fears the mail bomb which had been assembled into a package and was addressed to Shauna Bell. Fears took the package to the post office and placed it into an outdoor mail collection bin. Law enforcement then seized the package. The FBI is currently prosecuting another darknet mail bomb case in the state of Georgia.