A CARPET fitter used Instagram for his dodgy side hustle in order to make thousands.
Steven Munsey, 32, imported the "potent” edible cannabis from California – but was caught after Border Force officials intercepted two of his parcels, which were labelled "carpet samples" in February 2020.
They contained edible cannabis products, hidden in clothing.
Munsey called his business "Ghostbudders" and sold the dodgy treats through a page on Instagram.
In June 2020, police raided Munsey's Redcar home, and other addresses he gave for the parcels to be posted to.
They found he'd just paid £17,000 in cash for a Volkswagen Transporter van parked outside, in the glove compartment of which was a Rolex watch.
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He also had £6,000 in cash lying around in his home.
Teesside Crown Court heard Munsey – who now runs a property maintenance business – visited California and later transferred £27,000 in Bitcoin to an American business – in exchange for the cannabis products.
Police also found cash sums were deposited into his account – one customer paying £34,000.
There were further deposits made throughout 2020, of £7,400; £5,000 and £7,000.
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Police seized drugs from the packages and from Munsey's former flat on Station Road in Redcar, valued in excess of £50,000.
On Thursday, prosecutor Robin Patton told the court that the illegal business came to light after Border Force and the National Crime Agency intercepted a parcel addressed to him in February 2020.
It contained .25kg of herbal cannabis, sent from California.
Other packages sent to an address on Brimham Court in Redcar, and to homes in Hartlepool addressed to two sisters.
They were intercepted and Border Force sent decoy packages.
Munsey was arrested in June 2020 and released on bail, but he continued trading, using an Instagram selling page to advertise the products – which are legal in America.
His business accepted different payment methods, including Bitcoin and bank transfers.
After initially denying the charges, Munsey pleaded guilty to: two counts of importing cannabis products to evade duty; possession of cannabis with intent to supply; possession of class A, B and two counts of class C drugs, from February to June 2020.
Alex Menary, mitigating, said that Munsey has since overcome his cannabis addiction and hasn't offended in the three years since his business was uncovered.
Mr Menary said that his client was genuinely working as a carpet fitter throughout his offending in 2020 – and that the business wasn't "a front" for his edible cannabis enterprise.
"He now has a partner and caring responsibilities for her daughter. The couple hope to start a family of their own," Mr Menary added.
Recorder Geraldine Kelly told Munsey that he "had had a big warning when you were arrested, but it highlights your arrogance that you continued your enterprise. These high-quality potent cannabis edibles might be legal in California, but they are illegal here, and they are potent.
"This was buying and selling on a commercial scale."
Munsey, now of Geneva Road in Darlington, was jailed for two-years-and-four-months.
He will be eligible for release on licence, after half of his sentence.
Speaking after the sentencing, Sergeant Neil Lovat, from the North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU), said the investigation into Munsey had involved joint work with Cleveland Police and Border Force: “This has been a huge win for partnership working. It is a prime example of the lengths we will go with partners to protect the region from harmful organised crime and illicit drug supply.
“From the moment these drugs tried to enter our country we were aware and tracking them, building our case, and ensuring that those responsible would have their day in court.
“This is exactly the type of work that will continue as part of Operation Sentinel – our dedicated regional initiative to tackling illegal drug supply and organised crime.
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“We will also continue to work with our partners to dismantle the criminal groups who try to profit from the sale and supply of illegal drugs, as well as ensuring those affected by drug addiction receive the support they need.”
If you see anyone acting suspiciously in your community, or have any information about local crime, you can report it to your local police force or alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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