Wiltshire woman jailed after importing £1million worth of crystal meth
A woman from Malmesbury has been sentenced to nearly six-and-a-half years in prison today (March 19) after admitting importing £1million worth of class A drug methamphetamine – commonly known as crystal meth – from Mexico. The drugs were concealed inside plastic toy figures and disguised as coffee beans.
Paola Patricia Morrish, 42, from Carnival Close, Malmesbury, pleaded guilty last April to importing the drug between October 2018 and February 2019 and was sentenced at Swindon Crown Court today to six years and four months.
Her husband David Morrish, 49, appeared alongside her at court to be sentenced for the offence of assisting an offender after admitting disposing of a package which he knew or believed to be relevant to the investigation. He received a nine month suspended sentence.
The investigation, led by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU), began in January 2019 when a package containing more than 400 toy figures was stopped by an officer from UK Border Force at Stansted Airport. Inspection of the dolls led to the discovery they contained methamphetamine. A full analysis later revealed a total of more than 7kg of the drug was concealed inside the figures.
The package was delivered to a Chippenham address on February 4, 2019, and collected a short while later by Mrs Morrish, who took it back to her Malmesbury home. Officers from the SW ROCU arrested the couple that evening and the unopened parcel was seized from their hallway. Despite Mrs Morrish’s early claims she didn’t know what was in the parcels, phone evidence proved otherwise and she went on to admit her role.
Detective Inspector Adrian Hawkins from the SW ROCU, said: “The drugs found in the dolls alone had a street value in the region of £1million, depending where they would ultimately be sold. We went on to discover Mrs Morrish had received other parcels, including a shipment of the drug disguised to look like coffee beans. One bag recovered was found to contain nearly 300g of crystal meth. The drug had been formed into coffee bean shapes, dyed brown, and added to regular bags of beans.
“Mrs Morrish was clearly heavily involved in a potentially lucrative plot to smuggle large amounts of the class A drug into the UK on behalf of a Mexican organised crime group. The work of colleagues at Border Force and our team has ensured their network was disrupted and the sentence handed down today shows that playing any part in such a plot has serious consequences,” he added.
Detective Superintendent Steve Kirby, from Wiltshire Police, said: “The work in this case carried out by our colleagues at the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit sends out a clear message to anyone involved in the illegal importation and supply of drugs; you will be caught and brought before the courts.
“The seizure of this massive haul and subsequent convictions has taken a significant quantity of crystal meth out of circulation.
“The arrests are a fantastic example of officers from the ROCU working closely with other agencies to speedily take action against those trying to bring class A drugs into the country.
“Smugglers continue to try more sophisticated ways of concealing drugs to get them into the UK but as this case proves the police are one step ahead. We have dedicated teams working around the clock to track down those people who try to do this and bring them to justice.”
Border Force Central Region Deputy Director Mark Kennedy, said: “This was an excellent, intelligence-led Border Force detection of drugs that had been elaborately concealed by the smugglers.
“Illegal drugs have a significant impact on our society, being the root cause behind countless burglaries, thefts and robberies. They are also used as a commodity by organised criminals linked to violence and exploitation of the vulnerable.
“Working with our colleagues in law enforcement we are determined to do all we can to stop drug traffickers. Those convicted of drug importation offences face considerable prison sentences.”
The drugs were believed to be intended for London-based Paolo Matos, 35, who fled his Battersea flat back to Mexico. He is now listed as wanted by both UK and Italian authorities.