Jade Scatchard is the kind of retailer most people would want to buy from.
He told his customers he was “just trying to do good deals with good people” as part of his mission to “hook up NZ with good gear”.
But his “gear” was illegal drugs and his “good deals” have landed him in prison.
Scatchard, 38, was sentenced in the Palmerston North District Court on Thursday to five years and four months’ prison for charges relating to his online business.
A summary of facts begins like a lecture, explaining how drug dealing has evolved beyond a buyer going to the local tinny house and handing over cash they withdrew from an ATM.
Scatchard ran his operation via the Dark Net, a form of internet only accessible with specialised software, configurations or special authorisations.
It is not found via typical search engines due to its high level of security and anonymity.
While home to legitimate users, the protection it provides also attracts black markets selling everything from firearms to malicious software and drugs.
New Zealand has its own marketplace on the Dark Net, called the TOR Market, mostly involving drug dealing.
It operates much like Trade Me, with users able to set up accounts and buy products sold by vendors and leave reviews. Payment is made with cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, adding a further layer of anonymity.
‘freshkiwiproduce’ the place to go for MDMA, LSD, Viagra and Ritalin
Scatchrad, who was unemployed, set up an account on the TOR Market with the username ‘freshkiwiproduce’, while also posting on an associate web form under the username ‘freshprincenz1’.
He asked in December 2020 if people wanted “bulk gg parvarti tears ? [sic]”.
Parvati Tears is a type of LSD.
He also posted an offer to supply 1000 tabs of LSD for $8000.
His marketplace advertised various drugs, offering LSD at $7 a tab, MDMA at $120 a gram and Ritalin at $10 or $20 a pill for 10mg and 20mg, respectively.
He even offered deals for bulk buys, with people able to get Viagra for $30 a pill or $100 for four.
He responded to positive feedback on the TOR Market forums, saying he was “doing my best to hook up NZ with good gear” and “just trying to do good deals with good people”.
Police analysis of Scatchard’s marketplace found he sold drugs at least 138 times between January 2021 and June 2021, posted throughout New Zealand with tracked and traced prepaid courier bags.
He made at least $69,700 from MDMA and $1690 from Viagra.
He also imported drugs, with Customs intercepting a package in June sent from Amsterdam to Feilding, uncovering food items and 10 soup packets containing 5.15L of liquid MDMA.
MDMA has a New Zealand street value of between $65,000 and $90,000 if sold in kilogram amounts.
Scatchard was not cooperative when police raided him in June, refusing to give passwords to his devices, not staying put in the house and resisting when they tried to arrest him.
Police found 127 Ritalin pills, $15,770 cash, more than 100 prepaid courier bags, a label maker, vacuum sealer and a tick list.
They also found a large quantity of purses and wallets, which Scatchard packed with the drugs in the courier bags.
His TOR profile stated orders would “look like your everyday mail in your mailbox with a quirky little stealth decoy”.
Situation a ‘tragedy’ – judge
Judge Lance Rowe said he did not know the exact value of the 5.15L of liquid MDMA if it was turned into pills, but it was not guesswork to say it was a significant amount.
Scatchard was a lead offender, being the sole person between the overseas imports and users, who took significant steps to conceal his identity.
While he was a methamphetamine addict, taking as much as a gram a day, the facts showed he was making more money than what he needed to cover his debts, the judge said.
His path into drug dealing was not unsurprising though, having witnessed and experienced domestic violence at a young age and suffering from undiagnosed ADHD before being introduced to drugs.
“You suffered trauma that was not really addressed, rather than through your own efforts at self-medication through drugs,” the judge said.
Scatchard was a smart man with people who cared about him.
“Mr Scatchard, it is a tragedy to have you in this position,” the judge said. “I think you need to concentrate on what matters in your life, which is your children, your relationships and your family.
“If you do that, you won’t come back here.”