A pair of drug dealers who supplied users by posting envelopes stuffed with narcotics through the Royal Mail postbox system have been jailed.
James Willoughby, 27, and Mac Cheremeh, 42, had sent hundreds of envelopes by posting them into post boxes in and around Chelmsford, Essex.
These envelopes, which contained drugs including crack cocaine, heroin, MDMA, cannabis, ketamine, LSD, crystal meth, ecstasy, and amphetamine, were sent to addresses in the UK, Australia and America.
Willoughby and Cheremeh’s unusual system was rumbled when 54 packages arrived at a Royal Mail sorting office within four days – all of which smelled strongly of cannabis.
Investigators from the Royal Mail proceeded to intercept 1,800 parcels that had been posted in and around the Chelmsford area over the course of a month between November and December 2018.
Willoughby, his brother Charles Willoughby, 32, and Cheremeh all admitted to their parts in conspiracy to supply the drugs, which had an estimated street value of up to £517,500.
In the end, James Willoughby and Cheremeh were sentenced to ten years each behind bars, while Charles Willoughby was sentenced to eight months, suspended for two years.
After hundreds of the dealers’ parcels were discovered, police were called in to investigate who was sending them – eventually clocking Charles Willoughby as he posted envelopes into a post box on London Road in Brentwood on 19 December 2018, and arresting him moments later.
After the packages were found to contain cannabis bud, officers searched a flat he had rented in Brentwood, where his brother James Willoughby was seen jumping from a balcony.
However, he failed to escape and was arrested.
Inside the flat, officers found large padded envelopes and cannabis bud, later finding further drugs, packaging items and cash in two other properties linked to the men.
The trio were summoned to court in December 2019, when each admitted three charges of conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
They also admitted two charges of conspiracy to supply class B drugs when they appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court on 21 January this year.
Charles Willoughby, admitted conspiracy to supply a class B drug.
They returned to court on Wednesday, where James Willoughby and Cheremeh were each jailed for ten years and Charles was given an eight-month jail term, suspended for two years.
The drugs, paraphernalia, mobile phones and computer and technical equipment used in their operation were all seized and will be destroyed.
A spokesman for Essex Police said: “This was a significant haul of drugs, which was discovered thanks to the diligence of Royal Mail staff.
“We’d like to thank them for their support throughout our investigation.
“Many people who use drugs recreationally do not understand the human cost.
“The supply chain is linked to violence, the exploitation and abuse of vulnerable people, including children.
“We are working every single day to protect the vulnerable and bring those involved in this cycle of misery to justice.”
A Proceeds of Crime hearing will be held in due course.