South Shields student jailed for role in worldwide drugs operation after police make £4m seizure
Police seized over £4m worth of MDMA, ecstasy tablets, amphetamine and Xanax after officers from the National Crime Agency established a large scale trafficking enterprise was running from South Shields.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the organised crime group had imported and exported 100s of kilos of various drugs through the dark web and used local post offices to send and receive the illegal packages.
The gang disguised the drugs in sweets and toys and communicated over encrypted messaging services in a bid to avoid detection.
They supplied to customers in the USA, Australian, Norway, Israel, Thailand, Hong Kong, nationally across the UK and locally and had warehouses in Hebburn and Washington.
The court Mubinar Rahman became the "warehouse and distribution hub manager" after being recruited by others into the criminal enterprise.
The 26-year-old, of Henry Nelson Street, South Shields, admitted trafficking drugs, possession with intent to supply class A drugs as well as being concerned in the supply of MDMA salts, MDMA tablets, LSD, crystal meth, heroin, cocaine cannabis, ketamine, amphetamine, Xanex and diazepam between March 2019 and July 2020.
Prosecutor Nick Dry told the court it was in June 2020 the National Crime Agency identified the criminal enterprise and Border Force operators started to intercept the packages.
Mr Dry said: "They established a criminal enterprise centred around South Shields, concerning large scale drug trafficking, including importation, exportation and the domestic supply of MDMA, both crystal and tablet form, sourced from the dark web."
Mr Dry said the drugs were mostly bought from abroad and sent to various addresses across the North East, where they were collected by Rahman and others for onward supply to their dark web clients.
The court heard the packages were sent from a number of local post offices, with Boldon being one of the most frequently used.
Mr Dry said the drugs contained in the packages seized from the postal service, the gang's warehouse and Rahman's car were worth a total of £4,300,000 on the streets.
Rahman told police he had started off delivering around five to six parcels per week but became more involved and would deliver "hundreds" once "business boomed".
Judge Tim Gittins sentenced Rahman to nine years behind bars.
Judge Gittins said it was as "industrial scale, commercially astute operation to source and distribute drugs of each category of seriousness" and had worldwide reach.
The judge said the illegal enterprise had a "large number of customers" in international locations and operated like a "one stop shop".