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‘Respected’ doctor caught selling drugs using dark web under Star Wars pseudonym

Shoaib Ahmad sold ecstasy, cannabis and fake versions of the anxiety-reducing medication Xanax over 12 months from July 2016 until August 2017

Matt Mathers
Saturday 16 December 2023 21:16 GMT
(West Midlands Police)

A doctor who bought illegal drugs to sell to customers on the dark web using the Star Wars pseudonym “Imperial Storm Trooper” has been jailed for five years.

Shoaib Ahmad, sold ecstasy, cannabis and counterfeit versions of the anxiety-reducing medication Xanax over 12 months from July 2016 until August 2017.

Ahmad, 41, previously of Dale Road, Halesowen was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday 11 December for the offences.

He had served prison time in France for related drugs offences and was on remand for two years prior to Monday’s sentencing.

Police launched an investigation in early 2017 when officers intercepted a package containing drugs addressed to a rented postbox in Birmingham.

The postbox was rented under a different name but was paid for through Ahmad’s bank account. It was one of several across the West Midlands that he rented under various names.

He used the postboxes to receive shipments of drugs, which he then sold on to others.

Ahmad operated under the pseudonyms “Imperial Storm Trooper” and “IST” and carried out his transactions using the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

West Midlands Police estimated that he made over £250,000 during the year that he was selling drugs.

Ahmad was also linked to another drug dealer, Portsmouth-based Marc Ward, who was arrested by the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit in June 2017.

Ahmad was caught carrying 46kg of ecstasy tablets with a street value of just over €615,000. (West Midlands Police)

Ward was part of a drugs gang who also dealt under different aliases on various marketplaces on the dark web.

Announcing plans to “retire” from dealing on one of these sites, Ward revealed that Ahmad’s alter-ego, the Imperial Storm Trooper, was among several suppliers who would be taking over his trade in counterfeit Xanax.

Only available on prescription in the UK, Xanax is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders but is often abused for its sedative effects.

Following Ward’s arrest, Ahmad travelled to France in August 2017, crossing into Belgium to the Netherlands.

On his return to France, he was searched by French border officers who found him carrying 46kg of ecstasy tablets with a street value of just over €615,000 (£528,704).

Ahmad was arrested, charged and subsequently sentenced to six years in prison in France.

The French authorities shared information about Ahmad’s arrest with us as and, as part of our ongoing investigation against him, we searched his home address in Halesowen where we found a variety of drugs along with digital devices, which when analysed revealed Ahmad’s link to the Imperial Stormtrooper profile and his illegal online drug deals.

Ahmad was extradited from France to the UK in July 2021 and was placed on remand awaiting trial.

He pleaded guilty on 28 June this year and was jailed last Monday for a total of 17 offences relating to possession and intent to supply controlled substances.

Passing sentence, the judge remarked that Ahmad would have been given a heavier sentence had he not already spent time in prison in France.

Detective constable Holly Percival, from the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit’s cyber-crime team said:  “To the outside world Shoaib Ahmad was a respected professional and very far from most people’s idea of a drug dealer.

“Behind the scenes however, within the secretive community operating on the dark web, he was heavily involved in selling illegal drugs.”

She added: “As a registered medical practitioner, Ahmad knew well the dangers these drugs posed but he had little regard for others, only for his own profit.

"He also thought he was beyond our reach, acting under the cloak of anonymity on the dark web, but we are as relentless in our pursuit of those who carry out crimes in cyberspace as we are tackling those who offend on the streets.

"We have the technical expertise and resource to take on these criminals and we are determined to disrupt the drug trades wherever it takes place.

“Ahmad’s capture is testament to our resolve.”

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