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Florida Teen Pleads Guilty to Selling Deadly Toxins on ‘Dark Web’

Jesse William Korff, the Florida teenager caught in an undercover sting that reached into the darkest corners of the Web, pleaded guilty Tuesday in New Jersey to producing and selling the deadly toxins ricin and abrin for use in attempted poisoning of a woman in London. Korff could face life in prison when he's sentenced in November on 16 felony counts including developing toxins and smuggling and conspiring to kill a person in a foreign country, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Prosecutors said in documents made public after he was arrested in January (PDF) that Korff, 19, of LaBelle, Florida, offered and delivered to undercover federal agents the highly noxious poisons in exchange for Bitcoin on the "dark Web" site Black Market Reloaded. Like Silk Road — an underground drug and hacking market that federal authorities shut down last year — BMR was accessible only through the anonymity-shielding proxy network Tor.

Korff wrote that if the drugs were used in a drink, the victim should "die by the forth [sic] day." In a statement Tuesday, the Justice Department said Korff succeeded in providing abrin to a woman in London who claimed she intended to kill her mother. But the purchaser said the dose was ineffective, and federal agents arrested Korff before he could sent a second shipment.

IN-DEPTH

— M. Alex Johnson