Accused dark-web trafficker on $500K surety

A 42-year-old Cranbourne man is arrested at a house in Cranbourne. He was charged with allegedly trafficking drugs over the dark web.

by Cam Lucadou-Wells

A Cranbourne man accused of trafficking LSD and cannabis over the dark web has been granted bail on a $500,000 surety.

Lucas Raymond Bingham, 42, faced a bail hearing at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 19 October after being arrested during simultaneous police raids of homes in the South East the day before.

Bingham is accused of being a dark web vendor with the user-name ‘Utopia’ and linked to 309 parcels of LSD and cannabis seized in the mail by police, according to a police summary tendered at court.

The parcels were allegedly mailed from street post boxes at shopping centres, such as Dingley Village, Fountain Gate, Eden Rise Village, Karingal Hub, The Downs and Thompson Parkway.

Bingham had been selling drugs on at least 13 identified online darknet marketplaces, police claimed.

According to Utopia’s profile page, there were more than 20,000 transactions in the ‘external feedback’ section (with a 94.8 per cent approval score), the summary stated.

Major Drug Squad detectives allegedly seized LSD tablets, cannabis, THC gummies, cannabis resin, THC cookies, cannabis oil, about $5,000 cash and an Isuzu D Max utility from Bingham’s house on 18 October.

In one of the bedrooms, a container of cannabis and 45 heat sealed bags of cannabis as well as numerous postal satchels and envelopes were seized, police stated.

In the lounge room, an envelope addressed to New York, USA contained comic books concealing 3000 tabs of LSD was allegedly found.

The gummies, cookies, resin and other LSD tabs were allegedly seized from a kitchen fridge and a laundry freezer.

Bingham was charged with trafficking a large commercial quantity of LSD, trafficking a commercial quantity of THC and trafficking cannabis over the past 11 months.

He was also charged with importing LSD, possessing drugs and suspected proceeds of crime.

At the bail hearing, police claimed that Bingham made partial admissions to operating the “dark net entity ‘Utopia’ and provided access codes to police.

He also admitted importing large amounts of LSD from overseas and owning all the property seized at the Cranbourne home, the police summary stated.

Police told the court that Bingham had been a tattooist – but hadn’t worked in the trade since the Covid pandemic from March 2023.

In supporting Bingham’s bail application, his mother offered up to $1 million surety – namely her and her husband’s home.

Magistrate Peter Reardon noted that Bingham needed to prove “exceptional circumstances” for bail – a high but not impossible test.

He noted that police didn’t seem to regard Bingham as an unacceptable risk of reoffending or failing to appear in court.

Bingham had also never been in custody and had no relevant priors.

His bail conditions included a $500,000 surety, reporting three times a week to police, surrendering passports, not accessing the dark web and using just one phone.

Major Drug Squad detectives also charged a 39-year-old Narre Warren woman with possessing cannabis, MDMA, LSD and THC and proceeds of crime.

She was bailed to appear at Dandenong Magistrates’ Court on 11 June.

A 67-year-old Cranbourne North man was interviewed and released without charge.