A 22-year-old New Yorker who really, really, really wanted to procure ricin for nefarious purposes has been convicted of attempting to acquire the deadly toxin to use as a weapon. Cheng Le is facing life in prison after he attempted to acquire ricin through the Dark Web so that he could commit "100% risk-free" murder. (Just like on the tee-vee.)

According to the US Attorney's office, Le was looking for ricin when he contacted an undercover FBI online agent in December 2014 over the Dark Web. Following the initial contact, Le asked the officer, "this might sound blunt but do you sell ricin?" They exchanged a series of messages about Le's efforts to purchase it, showing he had extensive knowledge of the subject, and had aspirations of becoming a distributor of death. Here are some of the messages Le sent:

  • “If [the ricin’s] good quality, I’ve already had buyers lining up.”
  • “Does ricin have antidote? Last I check there isn’t one, isn’t it?”
  • “Injection can be difficult to pull off. Ricin doesn’t work immediately. You wouldn’t expect the target to not fight back after being jabbed.”
  • “The client would like to know...if it is wise to use ricin on someone who is hospitalized...Injection will leave needle holes on the body which could be found in regular forensic examination. But hospitalized people already have needles in them so it wouldn’t be suspicious. Thing is, would ricin make the death look like someone succumbed to the injuries after an accident and didn’t make it through? In that case then, a little anethestical gas in the target’s car, get him drowsy when driving, get into an accident, and then kill him in the hospital bed.”
  • “I probably told you this before, about mixing one and only one toxic pill into a bottle of normal pills. They all look identical. And as the target takes the medicine every day, sooner or later he’d ingest that poisonous pill and die. Even if there is a murder investigation, they won’t find any more toxin. 100% Risk Free.”
  • “If you can make them into simple and easy death pills, they’d become bestsellers.”
  • “I’ll be trying out new methods in the future. After all, it is death itself we’re selling here, and the more risk-free, the more efficient we can make it, the better.”
  • “Also, besides that one bottle of pills with one poisonous pill in there, can you send some extra loose powder/liquid ricin? I’d like to test something.”

Le was sent a mock shipment of ricin on December 22, 2014, and the next day when he picked up the package, authorities busted into Le's apartment and found him with latex gloves handling the substance. He was still logged into the account he had used to communicate with the officer.

Le was convicted of one count of attempting to possess a biological toxin for use as a weapon, one count of using a fictitious name in furtherance of unlawful business involving the mail, and one count of aggravated identity theft during and in relation to a terrorism offense.