A couple from Weston Coyney have been jailed for a combined total of 12 years after their involvement in the importation of designer class B and C drugs and cutting agents.
Damon Bolderson, 42, of Branson Avenue, Weston Coyney, Stoke-on-Trent, pleaded guilty to three counts of possession with intent to supply class B drugs (including Butylone and Methylone which is similar to amphetamine).
He and his wife, Paula Bolderson, 38, of the same address, both pleaded guilty to four counts each of possession with intent to supply class C drugs (including Diazepam).
Both pleaded guilty to assisting an offender/encouraging crime which comes under Section 45 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.
The pair appeared at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court on Tuesday 8 April, where Damon was sentenced to eight years in prison and Paula was jailed for four years.
The sentencing follows an investigation under Operation Nemesis, the force’s ongoing commitment to tackling drug dealers, which was a complicated and protracted inquiry by Staffordshire Police’s Serious Organised Crime Unit,
The pair were sentenced after pleading guilty at a previous court appearance at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.
Suspicions about the couple’s activity were raised between October 2010 and March 2011 when UK Border Agency staff intercepted a number of disguised packages entering the country that were headed for the couple’s Weston Coyney home.
They seized 276kg of Lignocaine and Benzocaine (both known cutting agents used in the supply of cocaine) which has a maximum street value of £55,000.
In April 2011 police were able to secure a warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act and the couple’s home was searched and they were arrested.
Officers recovered large amounts of Benzocaine and 133,029 (82kg) designer class C and B drug tablets, including 26,000 Diazapam tablets (class C drugs), and a small amount of cocaine, which had been imported from China, Hong Kong and Pakistan.
Benzocaine is an anaesthetic used as a cutting agent to dilute the purity of the drug, usually cocaine, therefore increasing profits for drug dealers.
While the couple remained on bail they continued to receive drugs and on 26 June 2011 a further quantity of cocaine and cutting agents were found at their home.
They resorted to trying to conceal their deliveries of payments in DVD cases and small packages but their continued illegal business was foiled by officers.
Inquiries and computer examinations showed Bolderson fabricated a fake pharmaceutical website offering drugs for sale.
The site claimed to be “one of the leading pharmaceutical importers, exporters and suppliers of high branded products to the pharmaceutical industry” and boasted to be “committed to supplying pharmacies and wholesalers with the highest quality branded and generic pharmaceutical products at the most competitive prices.”
The website portrayed the company professionally with photographs of a warehouse and HGVs along with certificates from the Medical Health Regulatory Authority that Bolderson secured using fraudulent documents.
The company profile on the site stated “We also follow all applicable laws, supplying only quality products that are maintained and shipped under stringent guidelines and controls to ensure quality delivery, free from error or defect. We take great care in the services that we provide and we treat each order with individual attention. We work hand in hand with our own licensed distribution company, who operate from a high level storage and warehouse facility.”
Detectives found emails exchanged with foreign clients documenting Bolderson’s supply of drugs to the Netherlands, Germany and the USA as well as the UK.
It was clear from the content of his correspondence that he knew exactly what the cutting agents were used for.
As the investigation progressed it soon became clear that the Bolderson’s had been living way beyond their means.
In a short space of time they went on an expensive exotic holiday, installed a hot tub in their garden, a games room full of collectable items, purchased designer clothing, executive cars and a holiday caravan in Wales for cash.
Detective Sergeant Dave Hughes, of Staffordshire Police’s Serious Organised Crime Unit, said: “Today’s sentences are the result of a long investigation into a seemingly normal Stoke-on-Trent couple.
“Behind the façade of their unassuming three bedroomed semi-detached in Weston Coyney they were in fact running an international drug trafficking business which was making them thousands.
“While Damon was the company executive, his wife acted as the company secretary and was fully aware of the illegal nature of the business.
“During our investigation we were not able to find any financial accounts or documentation to explain the business and a large amount of cash was recovered from the couple’s home. It quickly became apparent that their pharmaceutical business was simply a cover for their criminal activity.
“We believe the drugs obtained by the Boldersons were headed for both local and international customers, including the Benzocaine which was destined to dilute cocaine, increasing its profit margin on the streets of Stoke-on-Trent and in other locations. There is no doubt that our intervention and disruption of this activity will have a knock on affect on cocaine dealers’ business, as they simply cannot operate without this cutting agent.
“It is also a stark warning to those who use or maybe considering using drugs – you simply don’t know what you’re taking or where it has come from. The dangers are unavoidable and it’s simply not worth the risk.
“The next phase of our investigation will include proceeding with a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing in relation to the seized cash and high value items. This is the normal process we go through to strip criminals of their illegally gained assets.
“Fortunately, activity on this scale is relatively rare within Staffordshire but should you have any information of similar activity in your area please do not hesitate to contact us.”
Anyone with any information on drug supply or use in their area should contact Staffordshire Police on 101, or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.