22 September 2016
A family-run crime group that set up online marketplaces to sell class A and B drugs to thousands of customers across the globe has been dismantled.
Adam Maybury, aged 28, from Burntwood in Staffordshire, who operated the business from a luxury villa in Spain, worked with his mother, sister, cousin and best friend.
His mother, Caroline Wakefield, 57, from Burntwood, had texted her son saying "I am getting a bit worried about all your dodgy dealings Adam just be careful x".
All five were sentenced to a total of 17 years and nine months at Birmingham Crown Court today following a National Crime Agency investigation with support from Staffordshire Police.
The synthetic drugs, which were sourced from Holland, included 4-FA and 4-MEC. They were distributed via the fast parcel system all over the UK and as far afield as Japan, New Zealand, Brazil and America.
Packages were intentionally mis-labelled and mis-described as sports supplements such as protein or whey powder in an attempt to avoid detection.
Officers evidenced that the crime group received average monthly payments of £45,000 from online sales at its peak. The conspiracy lasted from June 2011 to September 2014.
Maybury, who had no legitimate income, pleaded guilty to conspiring to import and supply class A and B drugs and money laundering at earlier hearings.
His business partner and best friend Thomas Marshall, aged 28, from Burntwood, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply and import class B drugs and money laundering following a four week trial in July.
He was responsible for dispatching drug packages from Spain until he fell out with Maybury over money.
Maybury's mother Caroline Wakefield pleaded guilty to money laundering. She opened and managed accounts, card processing facilities and companies that were used in the purchase, importation and onward supply of controlled drugs.
Wakefield also leased the group's UK office - a converted flat on Chase Road, Burntwood - and was director and shareholder of Quiddu Limited, one of the companies used to launder money.
Maybury's sister Faye Maybury, aged 30, from Bloxwich, admitted conspiring to supply class B drugs and money laundering. Working from the UK office, she administered the group's websites, processed invoices, ensured payments were made and also posted packages on her brother's behalf.
Dean Russell, aged 27, from Burntwood, who was Maybury's cousin, took over Marshall's distribution role after his fall out with Maybury. When Russell was arrested flying into the UK from Spain, he said: "Yes I was expecting this. I didn’t expect to get through when arrested at the airport." He admitted conspiring to import class B drugs and money laundering.
Mick Pope, NCA senior investigating officer, said: "Adam Maybury's illegal family business operated on a truly global scale. It is clear from the financial records and documents we recovered that they had thousands of customers.
"The NCA had first class support from Staffordshire Police to dismantle this crime group and their well-established supply route. The NCA will continue to target criminals who use the internet as a marketplace for illegal goods."
DS Jon Bradbury, from Staffordshire Police Force Intelligence Bureau, said: “This is another great example of partnership working being key to disrupting criminality.
“Tackling drug crime in our communities is a priority for Staffordshire Police and under Operation Nemesis we remain committed to dealing with what matters to the communities we serve.
“We encourage residents to report suspected drug crime to us so we can take the appropriate action.
“Drug crime, and the misery it brings, is not welcome in Staffordshire.”
Sarah Dillon, from the Organised Crime Division at the CPS said: "Today's sentences bring an end to Adam Maybury's online family business which pretended to sell sports supplements but was a front for supplying illegal drugs through the post.
"The scheme earned substantial amounts of money and allowed Maybury to enjoy holidays in Cuba and Australia and rent a property in Spain.
"We worked with the NCA to present compelling evidence in court which left many defendants with no option but to plead guilty and avoid a costly trial.
"This shows that no matter how difficult we will pursue cases against organised crime and help make our streets safer."
Photos of the group can be accessed via the NCA's Flickr page.