It was 10 months ago - the first Tuesday in July - when Michael Anthony Ralph walked into Wollongong Police Station and asked to speak to detectives about a drug matter.
Sitting in an interview room, his lawyer quietly by his side, Ralph revealed a secret that had been plaguing him for years: he was an addict.
But it wasn't your average, run-of-the-mill drug that had Ralph hooked. Instead, he was into "designer drugs", the kind whose scientific names seemed to contain every letter in the alphabet, plus a few numbers thrown in for good measure.
Ralph spent the next few hours laying out in pain-staking detail his history of drug use and, more importantly for the police, how he went about sourcing each hit using the dark web, cryptocurrency and Australia Post.
When asked what had prompted his sudden and complete confession, Ralph said he was trying to clean himself up and get sober, and wanted to "clear up" outstanding matters.
By that, Ralph was likely referencing the fact he was already on Australian Federal Police's radar: he may have made his confession in 2020, but he had long been known to authorities.
Police had begun intercepting and seizing packages addressed to Ralph as far back as December 2016 and by March 2020, had confiscated 32 parcels.
Each time, Ralph received a letter from the AFP saying his goods had been seized, but he pressed on with his venture regardless.
He told detectives he had a history of using designer drugs including methcathinones, LSD, Ketamine and hallucinogenic substances. He said he purchased the drugs on the dark web from websites that often included the word "chem" or "chemical" in the name.
Ralph said he paid for the drugs using the cryptocurrency Bitcoin or direct money transfer from his Commonwealth Bank account, then had them shipped to his home address or the Keiraville Post Office using international post.
He even told the detectives he was expecting a delivery any day, having recently shelled out $1000 to top up his supply.
Meanwhile, in keeping with his promise of full disclosure, Ralph also gave police full access to his laptop and mobile phone during the interview and showed them the websites he had accessed.
The detectives said both devices contained "significant dark web history", along with screenshots of invoices and evidence of online drug purchases.
Ralph was charged with two counts of importing a border controlled drug (without commercial intent).
He chose not to appear in person in Wollongong Local Court on Tuesday but entered pleas of guilty to both charges through his lawyer.
He will be sentenced on May 18.
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