Drug dealer fell for customs sting operation
A businessman who imported a kilogram of illegal drugs from China has been jailed after falling for a customs sting operation.
Richard Armitage was caught red-handed as he prepared to divide up the rave drug methalone in the living room of his Exeter home.
He had no idea his package had been intercepted by customs at East Midlands Airport and the drugs substituted for flour and icing sugar.
He drew his wife Jenna into his plot by getting her to sign for the parcel under a false name when it was delivered by an under-cover police officer posing as a courier firm driver.
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When police raided their home they found £36,000 cash in a carrier bag by Armitage's bedside and he and his wife are likely to have their assets seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Armitage was jailed at Exeter Crown Court after a judge told him he was a professional drug dealer who considered spells in prison as an occupational hazard.
Web designer Armitage, aged 31, of Chantry Meadow, Alphington, Exeter, admitted smuggling methalone and possessing criminal property and was jailed for 20 months.
His now-estranged wife, aged 27, was found guilty by a jury of being involved with smuggling the drug. She was jailed for nine months, suspended for a year, and ordered to do 200 hours' unpaid work.
Recorder Mr James Tindal told her she played only a 'walk-on part' in the plot and had not known about the money upstairs.
Mr Jonathan Barnes, prosecuting, said the drugs were found during a routine check by airport customs men and were then substituted for a dummy package.
The original parcel was addressed to a Mr Paul Cook at the Armitages' address and when it was delivered Jenna answered the door and signed for it in the false name, telling the undercover officer: "Oh, brilliant, that's us."
The drugs were worth at least £7,000 wholesale and £14,950 if sold on the streets. They had been sent from China, but Armitage's contact was in Thailand. He has previous convictions for dealing cannabis and cocaine.
Mr Lee Bremridge, for Armitage, said he was not acting alone and there were others above him in the chain to whom he was planning to pass the drugs and the money.
Mr Jason Beal, for his wife, said her involvement was limited to answering the door and her bank statements showed she had no access to the money.