Western students arrested in drug bust: Three charged in dark web operation

Marc Ramirez, News editor

Three Western Illinois University students were arrested the afternoon of April 30. Zachary Dean Barnett, pre-business finance major, William Carter Hirmonimus-Wendt, cyber security major and Jacob Cole Nelson, exercise science major were all lodged at McDonough county jail later that afternoon.

Barnett, 18, was arrested in Morgan Hall after a package, headed to Barnett and Nelson’s apartment, full of drugs was intercepted by the Postal Service. Lieutenant Lindsey May stated that Barnett purchased drugs such as LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms, ecstasy, Xanax, MDMA, Modafinil and steroids over the dark web. After search warrants were obtained to search the residence of the three men they also discovered gummy bears infused with THC.

According to May, police have been working with the postal service inspectors on busting drug related packages before they arrive to Macomb and connect them to the residences they’re intended to arrive to. This bust was known to happen due to prior investigative work.

“This was a significant target for this area,” May said in reference to stopping the drug sales operation in an interview with TSPR. “They were the supplier for both locals and college students.”

Barnett is currently facing one charge of contributing to delinquency of a child in regards to providing alcohol to an underage person earlier the prior day according to the belief of the Illinois State Police troopers. He also faces seven counts of manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance and seven counts of a controlled substance. Barnett’s bond for release was set at $5,000.

Hironimous-Wendt was arrested facing six counts of manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance, six counts possession of a controlled substance and manufacture/delivery of 30-500 grams of cannabis. His bond for lease was set at $2,000 cash.

Nelson was arrested on two counts of possession of a controlled substance. Bond was set at $500 cash for the release of Nelson.

May believes that this is such a significant drug bust that more arrests could be possible. He also referred to this case as “the Amazon of drugs” in Macomb.

The three men are expected to appear in court on May 21 at 1:30 p.m. in the McDonough Country District Court.