‘Customs suspicious of chemicals barrels’ used in Burnley drugs operation (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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‘Customs suspicious of chemicals barrels’ used in Burnley drugs operation
AN operation to import large barrels of chemicals, as part of a cocaine ring, started to unravel when custom officers became suspicious, a court heard.
Customs officials were alerted when a 25kg container marked ‘triflourobenzaldehyde’, for bogus chemical firm Green Scientific Ltd arrived from Shanghai, destined for Mandy Hopkins in Dall Street, Burnley, Preston Crown Court was told.
But the barrel actually contained benzocaine, a popular cutting agent for cocaine, and it was impounded by the UK Borders Authority (UKBA), never reaching its destination.
Prosecutor Robert Golinski said that instead a letter was sent by the UKBA to Hopkins, telling her the goods had been detained.
Text messages are then said to have been relayed between Hopkins and Christopher Pounder, who had asked her to take delivery of a succession of barrels.
Hopkins, 23, of Dall Street, is on trial accused of assisting in the supply of class A drugs, alongside Scott Grindley, 24, of Hollingreave Road, Burnley, Clifford Hall, 31, of Whaddon Way, and Stephen Baylis, 31, of Kingston Avenue, both Milton Keynes.
Pounder, 26, of Parkinson Street Burnley, has admitted the same charge and is awaiting sentence.
Jurors heard that after Hopkins received the letter, in April 2011, she began to text Pounder.
And one message read: ‘I am paranoid about this now – I don’t want anything else’.
Pounder then replied: ‘Okay Mandy, I will let him know for you.’ Mr Golinski said that in further messages Hopkins texts about not wanting to ‘get sent down’.
But Hopkins then reassures Pounder that she would ‘never grass’.
It is alleged that Hopkins and Pounder took in shipments of benzocaine, some of which were then transported to Middleton, north Manchester by Grindley.
Prosecutors allege that Hall and Baylis had ordered the benzocaine from Chinese firms and delivered them to addresses in Burnley and Ripley, Derby-shire, using the names of fake chemical firms.