AN international drug smuggling ring was smashed when a parcel of cocaine sent from Jamaica to North Wales was intercepted by border agency officials.
The parcel was labelled as a hair product, and was destined for an address in Viking Way in Connah’s Quay, a court heard.
The cocaine was hidden inside tubes but was replaced with a harmless product, the package was resealed, and it was sent on its way.
North Wales Police were alerted for the controlled delivery on Deeside, Darren Jones signed for it, and he and his wife were arrested.
It turned out they had been recruited by neighbours.
More people in the local community were arrested – and when two men from the West Midlands turned up to pick up the parcel the police pounced.
On Friday, one of the men, former teacher Dane Taylor, 49, of Grosvenor Road, Wolverhampton, said to be the direct link with Jamaica, was jailed for four-and-a-half years.
The second man, described as his right hand man, semi-professional cricketer Calver Wright, 34, of Legge Street in Wolverhampton, received three-and-a-half years.
Taylor’s contact on Deeside, Bethan Stout, 31, of Dodd’s Drive in Connah’s Quay – said to have recruited and paid the others to receive the parcels – was jailed for a year.
Her sister Nerys Jones Stout, 29, also of Dodd’s Drive, Connah’s Quay; Rhian Caroline Jones, 25, and her husband Darren Jones, 26, of Viking Way in Connah’s Quay, and Rhian Jones’ mother Katrina Benbow-Norry, 50, of Dodd’s Drive, all received suspended prison sentences – Nerys Jones 52 weeks and the others 40 weeks suspended.
All seven pleaded guilty to two charges of importation of cocaine between August 2008 and August this year, at an earlier occasion.
Judge Niclas Parry, sitting at Mold Crown Court, said: “Together, you oiled the wheels that facilitated the passing of Class A drugs into the UK.
“This was carefully thought out, well planned, designed to make detection as difficult as possible, so cocaine could be brought into the UK for distribution in the West Midlands.”
Myles Wilson, for Bethan Stout, said she had acted “out of startling naivety” and it was a matter of great regret that she had got others involved. Her role had been to provide a safe house and to recruit others to do so.
Andrew Green, for Nerys Stout, said his client had been trusting and naive. Her sister had tried to keep her out of it. She had acted totally out of character.
Stephen McNally, for Katrina Benbow-Norry, said his client had been in a financially precarious state and she had fallen to temptation to make some easy money.
Paul Abrahams for Rhian Jones said she suffered from depression and had health problems following the recent birth of her baby. She and her husband had been vulnerable under financial pressures.
Nicholas Walker, for Darren Jones, said he had been recruited to receive the package by Bethan Stout when she knew he and his family were desperate for money. He was a really nice young man who had been desperate to provide baby items after his wife gave birth.