AN INTERNATIONAL drug smuggling ring was smashed when a parcel of cocaine sent from Jamaica to Deeside was intercepted by border agency officials.
The parcel was labelled as ‘Top Brass’, a hair product, and was destined for an address in Viking Way in Connah's Quay, a court heard on Friday (January 28).
The cocaine was hidden inside tubes but was replaced with a harmless product and the package was resealed and sent on.
North Wales Police was alerted to the delivery and when Darren Jones signed for it and he and his wife were arrested.
It turned out they had been recruited by neighbours to receive the parcel in return for much-needed cash.
More people in Connah’s Quay were arrested – and when two men from the West Midlands turned up to pick up the parcel police pounced.
Today the man said to be the direct link with Jamaica – former teacher Dane Taylor, 49, of Grosvenor Road, Wolverhampton – was jailed for four and a half years.
A second man described as Taylor’s right hand man – semi-professional cricketer Calver Wright, 34, of Legge Street in Wolverhampton – was sent down for three and a half years.
Taylor’s contact in Connah’s Quay – single mum Bethan Stout, 31, of Dodd’s Drive – was said to have recruited and paid the others to receive the parcels. She was jailed for a year.
Her sister Nerys Jones Stout, 29, also of Dodd’s Drive, was given a 12-month suspended prison term.
Rhian Caroline Jones, 25, and her husband Darren Jones, 26, of Viking Way and Rhian Jones’ mother Katrina Benbow-Norry, 50, of Dodd’s Drive, all got 40-week suspended sentences.
All seven pleaded two guilty to two charges of importing cocaine between August 2008 and August 2010 at an earlier occasion.
Judge Niclas Parry, sitting at Mold Crown Court, told them: “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 that cocaine could be brought into the UK for distribution in the West Midlands.”
Judge Parry said Taylor was the main man, the direct contact with Jamaica.
Wright not only provided an address for packages but travelled to Deeside to ensure the transportation of the drugs.
Bethan Stout accepted recruiting the others – she was the link between them and Taylor and Wright. She received £1,500 and made smaller payments to the rest.
Myles Wilson, defending Bethan Stout, said she had acted ‘out of startling naivety’. Her role had been to provide a safe house and to recruit others to do so.
Nicholas Walker, defending Rhian and Darren Jones, said the couple had been cynically recruited to receive the package by Bethan Stout when she knew they were desperate for money after having a baby.