SCDC Prisoner and Co-Conspirator Sentenced to Federal Prison for Roles in Dark Web Mail Bomb Plot
Columbia, South Carolina --- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that Michael James Young Jr., 32, of Columbia, South Carolina, was sentenced to over 43 years in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to purchase a mail bomb from prison over the Dark Web. Co-conspirator Tyrell Fears, 23, of Irmo, South Carolina, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
Evidence presented to the court revealed that while incarcerated in the South Carolina Department of Corrections, Young obtained a contraband cellphone smuggled into the Broad River Correctional Institution. Young used that contraband cellphone to run a drug business distributing marijuana he obtained from a California supplier and from the Dark Web. Drugs purchased by Young were shipped to a conspirator’s residence before being picked up by co-defendant Vance Volious for re-distribution.
While this drug conspiracy among Young, Volious, and others was operating, the conspirators also plotted to kill Young’s ex-wife. This was not the first time that Young had tried to kill her; he was serving a 50-year sentence after having been convicted of attempting to kill her and of murdering her father in 2007.
In February 2017, Young accessed the Dark Web from prison on his contraband cellphone and started a dialogue with an undercover FBI agent, whom he believed to be a foreign explosives dealer. Young paid for a mail bomb to be sent to a conspirator’s residence in Irmo and for the re-shipment label addressed to his ex-wife to be sent to Volious’ house in Columbia.
Fears obtained the labels from Volious, armed the mail bomb, and was surveilled by the FBI delivering the inert explosives package to the Post Office in Irmo on June 6, 2017. After a United States Postal Inspector recovered the mail bomb, Young, Volious, and Fears were arrested on federal charges.
Young and Volious were convicted by a federal jury in April 2018 for 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. United States District Judge J. Michelle Childs sentenced Young to 525 months in federal prison, to be followed by 3 years of court-ordered supervision. Judge Childs sentenced Fears—who pleaded guilty to carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony and conspiracy—to 120 months in federal prison, to be followed by 3 years of court-ordered supervision. Volious will be sentenced at a later date.
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 Attorney Will Lewis of the Columbia office and former Assistant United States Attorney Jay Richardson, with assistance from Dan Goldberg of the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office.