Warwickshire drug dealer imported cocaine in children's games
GAMBLING addict Joe Richens used the dark web to import huge quantities of cocaine and ecstasy hidden in children’s games and coffee containers.
The one-man operation, which was busted after the packages were intercepted, netted him more than £600,000 – but he’s now behind bars for more than 11 years.
Richens, 32, worked for Infotech Solutions near Alcester but used encrypted phones to run his drugs business on the side for six years. He pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to evade the prohibition on importing drugs, offering to supply class-A drugs, possessing MDMA with intent to supply it and money laundering.
Richens, of Warwick Road, Kineton, was jailed at Warwick Crown Court, but the case has re-emerged after a confiscation hearing to investigate his finances was adjourned. The court heard he made £612,442 – money he gambled away on stocks and shares.
With assets valued at £17,895.70, plus further “hidden assets” estimated at £15,000, Richens was ordered by Recorder Eugene Egan to pay £32,895.70 within three months or face a further nine months in jail – with the money still to be paid.
At the original hearing, prosecutor Martin Liddiard said: “He was the principal player at the top of an organisation in which he has acted as an importer of controlled drugs and has then proceeded to distribute those drugs. His methods were designed to keep the involvement of others to a minimum, using crypto-currency, the use of the dark web and encrypted devices.”
Richens came to the attention of police in February 2018, when a package addressed to him at a postal depot in Alcester was intercepted at Coventry airport. The package appeared to contain four Lavazza coffee containers, which alerted suspicion because it was an expensive way of buying coffee. In fact the containers held 6,944 MDMA tablets and 280 grams of cocaine, worth around £100,000.
Similar deliveries had been made before and Richens was also linked to three other mail companies, one of which contacted UK Border Force. When a children’s game was opened, packages containing 263 grams of MDMA and 121 grams of cocaine were found.
Mr Liddiard said up to 40 kilos of drugs may have been imported in the 13 known instances.
Richens was arrested at work and three phones were seized, together with a USB stick and the key to a room at the Travelodge in Alcester, where officers found 576 MDMA tablets, scales, bags and a vacuum sealing machine.
Alex Leach QC, defending, said: “This is an intelligent defendant experienced in information technology who was involved in a sophisticated form of gambling in stocks and shares