A Schoharie County teenager has been arrested in New Jersey after authorities there said he offered his services as a hitman via the “dark web” and drove to Mahwah, New Jersey, to accept payment before doing the job.
According to a complaint warrant obtained by The Daily Gazette, the 18-year-old negotiated a contract killing with someone who turned out to be an undercover cop in exchange for $2,500 cash and a Glock 17 handgun fitted with a silencer.
Joshua Craig Rowling, 18, of 223 Franzen Road in Richmondville, was arrested by authorities in Bergen County, New Jersey, and was charged with one count of first-degree conspiracy to commit murder for hire, one count of second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, and one count of fourth-degree possession of a silencer.
All of the charges are what’s known in New Jersey as “indictable offenses,” which are equivalent to felonies in New York, according to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.
The prosecutor’s office said in a prepared statement that the arrest came about after a joint investigation between their office’s cybercrimes unit, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security Investigations Division in Newark and the Mahwah Police Dept.
The prosecutor’s office said authorities learned Rowling was peddling his services as a hitman on the dark web and initiated an investigation. The dark web is a collection of thousands of websites that use anonymity tools to hide IP addresses for the purpose of illicit trade in items such as weapons and child pornography.
“The investigation revealed that [Rowling] agreed with another to commit a murder in exchange for a firearm fitted with a silencer and cash,” said the prosecutor’s office in its statement. “Ultimately, [Rowling] drove from his home in Richmondville, New York, to Mahwah, New Jersey, to meet with a person he thought was seeking his services as a hitman, but who was actually an undercover officer.”
Rowling met the undercover officer on Oct. 21 at the Mason Jar restaurant, at 219 Ramapo Valley Road in Mahwah. Authorities said he was taken into custody without incident at the restaurant.
The complaint warrant against Rowling said he took possession of the gun and silencer prior to his arrest.
“Search warrants were subsequently executed at [Rowling’s] home in New York, as well as of his vehicle in New Jersey, and numerous items of evidence were recovered,” said the prosecutors in their prepared statement.
A judge in New Jersey set Rowling’s bail at $1 million, with no bond option. He was made to surrender his passport and was sent to Bergen County Jail.
He is due in Bergen County Central Municipal Court at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 2.
Reach Gazette reporter Dan Fitzsimmons at 852-9605, [email protected] or @DanFitzsimmons on Twitter.
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Categories: News, Schenectady County