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The true story behind ‘How to sell drugs online (fast)’

  • August 04, 2021

Teenagers dealing drugs online — that is a story Netflix tells in the award-winning series How to Sell Drugs Online (fast). The third season just went online last week. The creators were inspired by the case of a real-life German teenage drug lord: Maximilian Schmidt.

Netflix followed up the hit series with a documentary about the young man that has just aired — Shiny_Flakes: The Teenage Drug Lord. The film reveals how, at the age of 18, Schmidt built a veritable drug empire he named Shiny Flakes from his childhood bedroom in 2013. His family was totally unaware. “At the very beginning I was nervous about it,” Schmidt says in the film, he remembers he would do something and fear that “boom, the police will come.”

Maximilian Schmidt in court in 2015

German director Eva Müller accompanied Schmidt for several years. Her team painstakingly rebuilt his childhood bedroom, down to the exact same furniture and bed linens he used to have. She had him reenact scenes, chat with make-believe suppliers, pack pink pills that were in reality candyin baggies. She spoke to him, interviewed his defense attorney, the prison director, the public prosecutor, and Schmidt’s psychological expert.

‘This is crazy’

For over a year, Schmidt sold more than 900 kilograms of hash, cocaine, ecstasy, LSD and prescription drugs, according to media reports.  The young man shipped these by mail around the world, effectively using the mailmen as his unsuspecting couriers. It was a highly professional business, payments were made in advance the orders processed and shipped “except instead of shoes, it was drugs,” Schmidt says. In fact, Schmidt ran his own kind of Amazon for almost all drugs, Stefan Costabel, the defense attorney, says in the film.

On display: Drugs the police found in the young dealer’s room

Schmidt even had customer ratings, one of which he reads out loud in the film: “Two of my teeth fell out right away, this stuff really f*** you up.” Seems like he was satisfied, Schmidt comments and grins. He looks quite pleased with himself.

No bad conscience

In one scene, director Eva Müller asks him whether his conscience never bothered him at all, because he was to blame for getting people hooked on drugs. The answer was no: if people didn’t buy from him, they would get their drugs elsewhere. And customers apparently simply found him via a Google search. “This is crazy,” Schmidt thought, “In a positive sense.”

Several undeliverable drug packages eventually led investigators to Schmidt, according to German media reports. In February 2015, police arrested the young man, who was 20 at the time, in the Schmidt family’s apartment in Leipzig. They seized 320 kilos of drugs worth several millions of euros,. Schmidt was sentenced to seven years in juvenile detention. Four years later, in 2019, the young man was released from prison.

According to Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND), a German joint corporate newsroom, Schmidt is under investigation again for selling illegal narcotics after his release from prison — though this time probably not single-handedly.

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