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Lavish British drug gang in Thailand are jailed

A drug boss and his money laundering girlfriend were showing off their lavish lifestyle with beach selfies in Thailand as his gang was ferrying narcotics.

Christopher Williams, 32, of Merseyside, led a gang who engulfed the streets of Barrow with Class A drugs.

But while his soldiers were ferrying drugs up and down the M6 to Cumbria, Williams was on a luxury holiday in Thailand, alongside his partner, Lauren Callister, 25, the Liverpool Echo reports.

The couple jetted off with friends to a luxury villa and the tropical beaches on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand in January 2020.

Callister – who laundered around £15,000 of dirty cash for Williams via her bank account – boasted online “best place iv ever stayed” as she shared sunkissed snaps of her posing in a bikini on a boat trip with her drug dealer boyfriend at the beautiful Pileh Lagoon. [sic]

In another picture, Callister can be seen enjoying the ocean views of a private residence overlooking Chaweng Bay and the Gulf of Thailand while floating on an inflatable flamingo.

One of the photos shows the couple shared their winter break with another member of the gang – convicted robber and drug runner Liam Benfield.

Last week, Williams and Benfield’s high life came to a crashing halt as they were both jailed over the Class A plot.

Prosecutors said Williams controlled and directed the operation in a conspiracy running between November 2019 and June 2020.

The couple shared their winter break with another member of the gang - convicted robber and drug runner Liam Benfield
The couple shared their winter break with another member of the gang – convicted robber and drug runner Liam Benfield (Image: Liverpool Echo)

Members of the gang travelled between Merseyside and Barrow on a regular basis to deliver drugs and collect money, while also recruiting people in both locations to bolster their ranks.

A phone line was used whereby group messages were sent to local drug users in Barrow at various times of the day, advertising the heroin and crack cocaine for sale.

Once a customer replied, they would be told a location to meet up to buy the product.

The court heard more than 7,700 messages were sent to around 200 different numbers in Barrow.

Detectives from Cumbria Police managed to identify the phone number being used for the transactions as part of Operation Furtim.

On May 19 last year they struck at a home in Rawlinson Street, Barrow, where they caught Benfield and drug addict, Kerri Mallet, red handed.

Benfield, 30, also of Merseyside, had 28 wraps of heroin and five wraps of crack cocaine on him.

When officers searched a loft space, they found £2,845 in cash, which Benfield was linked to by forensic evidence.

Williams took responsibility for Callister getting involved in crime
Williams took responsibility for Callister getting involved in crime (Image: Liverpool Echo)

Cumbria Police’s investigation into the gang culminated in a series of raids on June 23, 2020, which led to the arrests of Williams and Callister.

They discovered around £2,000 in cash, numerous mobile phones and a “master list” of Barrow drug users kept by Williams, who was described as having knowledge on how to use the phone line.

Williams pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to supply Class A drugs and was jailed for eight and a half years.

Callister, originally from Carlisle, was charged with being involved in the same heroin and crack cocaine conspiracies but was cleared of these charges.

Williams pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to supply Class A drugs and was jailed for eight and a half years
Williams pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to supply Class A drugs and was jailed for eight and a half years (Image: Liverpool ECHO)

She admitted converting criminal property and walked free from court after being handed a two-year community order with a 50-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and 80 hours of unpaid work.

Benfield, who also admitted the drug plots, was handed a sentence of five years and eight months.

Speaking after the sentencing of Williams and his gang, a spokesman for Cumbria’s South Community Serious and Organised Crime Team said: “The Drugs Unit has an outstanding record of disrupting and convicting organised crime groups who set up in the area in an attempt to prey on vulnerable people for profit.

“We will continue to relentlessly pursue those involved in serious and organised crime, arrest them and bring them before the courts for sentencing.”

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