A former Kentucky Fried Chicken worker Paul Johnson, a first-class degree holder, chose a different path after failing to secure a better job. He set out in 2015 to make it big and huge by running a "Labrador Tea Company." Johnson used the label to dupe the postal system.
The 32-year-old received consignments from Canada, Spain, and other nations. He majored in cocaine, Heroin, Fluoroamphetamine, Cannabis, Ketamine, and LSD. He would weigh and package them as tea products and send them via the postal system.
Johnson imported and sold these drugs through the dark web marketplaces making millions thanks to ready buyers on these avenues.
Johnson and wife Lia lived with their child in Market Harborough, in a modest detached house whose attic he used to conduct the illegal business. The privacy of his business came as a shock to the neighborhood as they described the couple as respectable.
Judge Nicholas Dean QC, on the case, referred to Johnson's way of business operation as unique when compared to other businesses of similar nature.
The Darknet provided Johnson a secure means to order and sell illegal drugs of class A and class B, receiving payment through bank transfers to his private account and also through Bitcoin cryptocurrency.
A search warrant was executed on December 13, 2017, at Johnson's place in Northampton Road, Market Harborough, barely three years since the business was established. He had already amassed a turnover of $1,868,946.
Apart from the vast sums stored in his bank accounts, he had acquired a $314,358 amount in bitcoin currency. Authorities seized all.
Johnson's deals got to the limelight between August 2016 and December 2017 when authorities seized various amounts of consignment packages addressed to Johnson, to three different delivery points. Some of the address locations were rented homes within their neighborhood that had rent, council tax and utility bills paid for. He dealt with a legitimate delivery company and the Post Office.
The court heard that the Johnson's who all face charges did not live a flashy life and did not own much in terms of property. They had acquired a three-bedroom house worth $175,000, a second-hand range rover, and a Nissan Juke, all driven by the wife since Johnson did not drive.
Case for Johnson's Wife
Johnson placed the wife in a tight spot. Mr. Blackburn, in her case, stated that Lia Johnson might not have known the full details of the kind of business her husband was doing. She thought he was dealing with computer parts. But at some point, she became aware that the husband was sending cannabis to 'some people.'
She pled guilty of acquiring criminal property and said that she enjoyed the benefits of especially owning a house and vehicles. Lia was sentenced to two years in prison.
Paul Johnson's Defense
James Varley, in defense of Johnson, told the court that circumstances the defendant was forced by circumstances and frustration of lack of opportunities in the job market for his qualifications. He did what he could as a sole trader and not as a part of a drug gang.
Varley went on to say that Paul had to provide for his family and was focused on raising enough for the family's needs. The reason why he never lived a flashy kind of life.
Paul and Lia Johnson pleaded guilty of charges leveled against them, and Johnson received eight years sentence with Judge Dean stating, "It was persistent and sophisticated offending during a significant period netting something in the order of two million pounds."
Since the property he acquired is through ill means, it will all be confiscated. Something that happens to all those found guilty of engaging in such business.
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