S.C. inmate and conspirator convicted of using cellphone to plot killing, deal drugs

Michael Young, Jr. (S.C. Dept. of Corrections)

A federal jury convicted S.C. inmate Michael Young Jr. and conspirator Vance Volious Jr. of dealing drugs and plotting to kill Young’s ex-wife with a mail bomb they bought with bitcoin off the dark web.

Investigators say that while incarcerated at the Broad River Correctional Institution, Young, 32, obtained a contraband cellphone that was smuggled into the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDOC) prison.

Young used that contraband cellphone to run a drug business distributing marijuana he obtained from a California supplier and from purchases on the Dark Web, investigators said.

RELATED | S.C. prison inmate used cellphone to try sending ex-wife bomb, feds say

Drugs purchased by Young would be shipped to a conspirator’s residence before being picked up by Volious, 36, for re-distribution.

Investigators said the two also plotted to kill Young’s ex-wife by mailing her a bomb, investigators said.

Young and Volious were convicted of conspiracy, transport of an explosive with the intent to kill, mailing a non-mailable explosive with the intent to kill, and carrying an explosive during the commission of another felony, according to the United States Attorney Beth Drake.

This was not the first time that Young had tried to kill his ex-wife; he was serving a 50-year sentence after having been convicted of attempting to kill her and of murdering her father in 2007.

Young purchased the mail bomb on the dark web using his contraband cellphone, investigators said.

Young used Bitcoin to pay for the mail bomb to be sent to a conspirator’s residence in Irmo. He also had re-shipment labels addressed to his ex-wife to be sent to Volious’ house in Columbia.

Co-conspirator Tyrell Fears – who previously pleaded guilty – obtained the labels from Volious, armed the mail bomb, and delivered the inert explosives package to the Post Office in Irmo on June 6, 2017.

After a United States Postal Inspector recovered the mail bomb, search warrants and interviews led to the federal arrest and indictment of Young, Volious, and Fears.

“The case certainly brings to bare the very real and dangerous problem that is contraband cell phones in our prisons,” said U.S. Attorney Beth Drake.

Bryan Stirling, director of the SCDOC said, “These convictions underscore what I have been saying for years—contraband cell phones in the hands of prisoners pose a significant threat to not only other prisoners and corrections staff but to the general public as well.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Joint Terrorism Task Force, United States Postal Inspection Service, South Carolina Department of Corrections’ Division of Police Services, State Law Enforcement Division, South Carolina Information and Intelligence Center, Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Lexington Country Sheriff’s Department, Irmo Police Department, USC Division of Law Enforcement and Safety, and Columbia Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Will Lewis and Jay Richardson with assistance from Dan Goldberg of the Fifth Circuit’s Solicitor’s Office.

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