A couple who imported £1.3 million worth of ecstasy, methylamphetamine, LSD, ketamine, and mephedrone into the UK from Germany have been jailed for a combined total of 18 years.

Paul Mellors, 52, and Donna Fortune, 42, from Helmshore, were involved in the operation which was orchestrated from an Accrington industrial unit between February and August 2019.

Border Force officers intercepted two DHL packages on June 25 and 27, addressed to a Saul Mettows at 53 Raven Park, Helmshore, which had been sent from Dusseldorf in Germany.

The parcel intercepted on June 25 contained 10,000 MDMA tablets with the Red Bull logo on, and just under 2kg of MDMA in crystal form, while the second parcel contained 5,000 more Red Bull MDMA tablets, more than 5,000 Donkey Kong MDMA tablets, and nearly 1.5kg more crystal MDMA.

Just under 1kg of ketamine was also found in the June 27 parcel.

On August 1, 2019, National Crime Agency officers attended Mellors' home address but before he was arrested he called Fortune and told her to put some of the drugs into the boot of a BMW.

Officers later found 11,578 MDMA tablets in that vehicle and a search of the unit uncovered a further 29,618 MDMA tablets, 3.49kg of crystal MDMA, and 703g of methylamphetamine powder.

Sentencing at Burnley Crown Court, Recorder David Temkin said: “You both are in a relationship and have been for some 17 years.

"In 2019, you were both involved in some serious offending – a wholesale drug enterprise run from a business park in Accrington.

“The approximate street value of the drugs on the day of your arrest was £1.3m. That reflects but a snapshot of the value of the drugs you were receiving and sometimes supplying onwards by post.

“This was a large-scale, wide-ranging operation.”

Addressing Mellors, Recorder Temkin continued: “You shouldered the bulk of the responsibility at the unit.

"You were working for another individual who trusted you with these high-value, unlawful commodities. You continued your offending for a significant period of time.”

The sophisticated operation included the use of Royal Mail sacks, digital scales, self-seal bags and a label writer, while Mellors had also acquired thousands of pounds worth of stamps.

CCTV footage showed both Mellors and Fortune wearing gloves, handling packages, and separating them into smaller packages ready for onward movement.

Mellors, of Broadway Crescent, Helmshore, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a prohibition on the importation of a class A drug, four counts of possession with intent to supply a controlled drug of class A, two counts of possession with intent to supply a controlled drug of class B, and perverting the course of justice.

Fortune, also of Broadway Crescent, Helmshore, has no previous convictions and pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply class A drugs and perverting the course of justice.

Sentencing, Recorder Temkin said: “Paul Mellors, you performed a management role and a crucial one. There was one or more offenders above you in the chain. Your offending was sophisticated and determined.

“Given what you received and posted out, you had a clear awareness and understanding of the operation.

“Donna Fortune, you performed a limited function, packaging and posting on a number of occasions over several months. You were acting under the direction of Mellors. The true scale may well have been somewhat unclear to you.”

Recorder Temkin sentenced Mellors to a total of 13 years and three months in prison, while Fortune received a sentence of four years and nine months.