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FBI: Former GOP Candidate Used the Darkweb to Buy Lethal Substance

In March, a former congressional candidate who unsuccessfully challenged House Speaker Paul Ryan for the Republican nomination allegedly searched for the supplier of a radioactive substance on a darkweb market. On October 25, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested the man for attempting to possess radioactive material with intent to cause death.

Jeremy Ryan, 30, is a prominent protestor in the state of Wisconsin. Ryan, also known as “Segway Boy” for his frequent use of a Segway, ran against House Speaker Paul Ryan in the Wisconsin 1st Congressional District House of Representatives election. He lost to the House Speaker. In 2018, Ryan planned to run against Paul Ryan for the Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District Republican Primary. He wanted Paul Ryan’s House seat. In campaign videos, Ryan has smoked marijuana and appeared intoxicated.

The protestor caught charges in 2016 for marijuana distribution and maintaining a drug operation. Although he pressed his luck against the courts in several occasions over the past few years, his October arrest likely ended the possibility of any political career. According to a criminal complaint filed by FBI Special Agent Scott Mahloch, Ryan unknowingly contacted an FBI Online Covert Employee (OCE) while searching for a radioactive substance on an undisclosed darkweb marketplace. Over the course of several months, Ryan learned about the substance, learned about using the substance to make it look like someone had died from cancer treatment, and ordered the substance.

On March 16, 2018, a user under the name “tigolebitties” contacted the OCE on the undisclosed darkweb marketplace asking about one of the OCE’s offers. Tigolebitties asked, “How much is included? And would it get to the US in time to still have time before half life?” The OCE responded two days later, asking which product tigolebitties had been referring to in his message. Hours after the OCE replied, tigolebitties responded that the message had asked about a certain radioactive substance. As in the Bryant Budi case, the federal agent chose not to include the name of the chemical in the criminal complaint.

The user then sent the OCE several more questions about other substances listed on the OCE’s vendor profile. Tigolebitties, later identified as Ryan, asked the OCE to move the conversation to an encrypted messaging application. Ryan sent the OCE his email address where the OCE could reach him on said messaging application. Days later, the OCE contacted Ryan through the requested method of communication. All conversations that occurred after March took place over this app.

In one message, Ryan wrote:

How long would it take the poison to kill someone after ingested? I’m looking for something that’s very rare/ difficult to get a hold of. Also that doesn’t show symptoms immediately but kills them fairly soon after. Preferably something that is not going to be extremely brutal and drawn out. But the main quality is that it is extremely difficult to procure so that people automatically
suspect the government. Do you have something other than the [radioactive substance] that would be like that and also safe to ship?

Although it often took days for the OCE to respond to Ryan’s messages, it took months for Ryan to actually place an order. On October 8, 2018, Ryan placed an order through the darkweb marketplace for the radioactive substance sold by the OCE. He provided the OCE—who Ryan still believed genuinely sold lethal substances on the darkweb—with his name and the address of a UPS mailbox at a UPS store in Wisconsin. The FBI obtained a copy of the Mailbox Service Agreement Ryan had signed when he had rented the mailbox. The agreement had Ryan’s name, home address, and photo ID scans.

With help from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the FBI delivered a package to Ryan’s UPS mailbox that contained an inert substance that resembled the radioactive material. Later that same day, the FBI monitored Ryan as he arrived at the UPS store to pick up the package on October 25. They arrested him later that day.

Authorities charged Ryan with one count of attempting to possess radioactive material with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury. He is being held without bond by the government’s request.

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