A suspected Isla Vista drug cartel turned out to be a PDF smuggling ring, police discovered Sunday.
During a sting operation on the 67 block of Trigo Road, Lieutenant Joseph Stevenson of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol attempted to buy LSD from alleged drug dealer and fourth-year UCSB student Matthew Lee. Instead he walked away with a pirated copy of Jerry R. Mohrig’s Techniques in Organic Chemistry.
“I walked into the suspect’s house and I saw these enormous stacks of papers,” recounted Lieutenant Stevenson. “I asked him if I could buy some acid off of him, and he winked and said he knew just what I needed. Then he handed me this ream of paper, and I realized it was an unauthorized copy of a textbook. The price was more than fair.”
After the sting, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office obtained a warrant to raid Lee’s home, where officers found a box of hard drives containing five terabytes of pirated math, psychology, biology, chemistry, and physics undergraduate-level textbooks. All ebooks had been stripped of DRMs and converted to PDFs.
Upon searching Lee’s computers, Sheriff’s Deputies determined that Lee was part of a PDF-smuggling ring stretching from San Diego Mesa College to Western Washington University. The ring sells or shares, depending on the “day ones” status between the recipient and the smugglers, pirated textbooks to thousands of college students along the west coast. One suspect in custody apparently exchanged PDFs for casual sex, although the emoji sequence in the venmo transaction history of said suspect corroborating this rumor is still being analyzed by the forensic linguistics department of IV Foot Patrol.
“They’ve got it all,” reported Deputy Vincent Wright. “Torrents, PDFs, thumb drives, even physical photocopies. We didn’t expect to see them printed on paper, now that was new. This is the most sophisticated PDF-smuggling ring we’ve ever laid eyes on. Frankly I’m grateful that we caught them when we did.”
Deputy Wright revealed that the smuggling ring was planning to expand into Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, which would have severely curtailed textbook publishers’ profits.
“I just don’t see why kids these days are so reluctant to spend $500 a quarter on forty-year-old textbooks,” opined Deputy Wright. “Why don’t they think of the poor, hardworking publishers? Or all the 20-something years the academics who wrote these snoozers spent in a basement so they’d have intellectual property to sell at all? Despicable.”
After the raid, Matthew Lee was arrested for violating copyright law. A GoFundMe set up by his girlfriend Clarissa Wang raised $20,000 for his bail in 37 minutes.