A postman has been jailed for his role in a cannabis supply operation which saw packages worth £1.2 million sent to fake addresses on his delivery route.
Veteran Parcelforce Worldwide driver Adewale Aderounmu would intercept the bogus parcels and hand them to accomplices in the drug ring, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
The sophisticated scheme was smashed when Border Force officers noticed a suspicious number of the cannabis parcels it had seized were bound for NW1 0 or NW1 1 in north-west London – his route.
The 55-year-old, of south London, was sentenced at the Old Bailey to seven-and-a-half years in prison on Friday after admitting one charge of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs in August last year, according to the CPS.
He had worked for Parcelforce Worldwide for more than a decade when he was arrested.
Prosecutors said bundles of cannabis were often posted to his beat in the capital from Nigeria and South Africa.
In October 2016, the Border Force stopped one package with almost 6kg of cannabis that was destined for a non-existent address in NW1.
Investigators swapped it for a dummy and put it into Aderounmu’s delivery load – then watched as he handed it to another man on the street.
He was arrested by the National Crime Agency, the CPS said.
Officers then combed back through previously seized drug parcels and found that around 100 had been sent to the postcode between 2010 and 2016, with a street value of £1.2 million.
Cash payments between £100 and £400 had been regularly dropping into Aderounmu’s bank account between 2014 and 2016, it was then found, but they had stopped after his arrest.
Adrian Flasher, from the CPS, said: “Adewale Aderounmu was an experienced delivery driver who took advantage of his position to enrich himself, by intercepting and passing on significant amounts of cannabis for cash, in turn exploiting the international parcel delivery system for his own financial gain.
“By analysing the pattern of the Border Force drugs seizures, and Aderounmu’s banking records, together with the use of other proactive techniques, the prosecution was able to build a compelling case against him.”
Such methods of drug smuggling are being closely monitored by national investigators.
Steve McIntyre, senior investigations manager at the National Crime Agency, said: “It’s extremely important that smuggling routes like these are detected and the offenders who set them up and use them are brought to justice.
“The issue of corrupt insiders is taken extremely seriously by the NCA in its mission to protect the public. With their privileged access they are crucial enablers of a wide range of criminality. In this case, we worked closely with the Parcelforce Worldwide security team to secure an arrest.”