A Peterborough man who was part of a major international drugs network has been locked up for five years today (Friday).
Irnas Nikunttas, of Freston, Paston, and Rimantas Zigaras were involved in the operation which led to large quantities of the drug being brought into the UK and distributed.
The drugs were bought directly from a manufacturing laboratory in China and delivered to addresses in the Boston area and other parts of the UK.
The mephedrone was then divided up and distributed in Boston.
The court heard that 24 consignments of 1kg of mephedrone were delivered through courier companies with payments totalling £35,000 made via Western Union and MoneyGram.
Zigaras, (34) , of Wood Lane, Isleworth, West London, and Nikunttas, (25), each denied conspiracy to import drugs between 1 May 2015 and 20 August 2016 but were found guilty by a jury following a trial earlier this year.
Zigaras was jailed for six and a half years. Nikunttas was jailed for five years.
Two women who played lesser roles in the drug importing operation were each given suspended jail sentences.
Geidre Vaitkute,33, of Freston, Paston, Peterborough, was given a two year jail sentence suspended for two years with a four month night-time curfew. Justyna Kulpyte, 26 , of Wood Lane, Isleworth, was given 15 months jail suspended for two years with a three month night-time curfew. Both denied conspiracy to import drugs but were found guilty by the jury.
Ben Isaacs, prosecuting, said Zigaras was in close contact with the main man Donatas Liumas as well as making payments to China for drugs.
Nikunttas performed a lesser role under the direction of others.
Mr Isaacs said the two women became involved through their partners with Vaitkute being in a relationship with Liumas and Kulpyte with Zigaras. Both women transferred money which facilitated the conspiracy.
Last year sentences totalling more than 30 years were handed out to four men convicted of their parts in the conspiracy. Donatas Liumas,29, of The Flats, Paston Ridings, Peterborough; Jonas Daugintis,21, of Oakham Terrace, Haven Village, Boston; and Arnaldas Cvetkov, 30, of Joy Paine Close, Boston; each denied conspiracy to supply drugs between 1 December 2025 and 17 August 2016 but were found guilty by a jury following a trial. All three pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import drugs between 1 May 2015 and 17 August 2016.
Jake Louth, 35, of Tower Road, Boston, admitted conspiracy to supply mephedrone. He also admitted possession of cocaine with intent to supply relating to a stash of drugs found at his home.
Liumas was jailed for 11 years. Cvetkov and Daugintis were each jailed for seven years and four months. Louth was jailed for seven years and eight months.
The court was told Louth was the original target of police enforcement action relating to suspected drug offences and it was through him that the scale of the illegal operation became apparent to investigating officers from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit. He was found to be in contact with an Eastern European organised crime group (OCG) with connections in Boston, Peterborough and London.
In April 2016, Cvetkovs and Daugintis were stopped in a vehicle with £14,000 in cash and Louth was detained outside his home in possession of 4kg of class B drugs. Subsequent searches recovered a large variety of controlled substances, including high purity cocaine, synthetic Class B drugs and more than £20,000 cash. They were released on bail. Whilst on bail the supply and importation conspiracies continued, including a drop of drugs for Louth made by the principle member of the Eastern European OCG, Liumas, to a hotel in Boston in May 2016. On August 16th 2016, during a second phase of enforcement, Liumas was arrested in Peterborough. Louth, Cvetkov and Daugintis were also arrested on fresh evidence. They were all charged with the conspiracy to supply offence and remanded into custody.
After they were charged, officers investigating the offences found evidence on a laptop which evidenced the importation of drugs into the UK from China. For the importation Liumas made contact with a number of chemical suppliers in China and from these he was able to source methedrone- based drugs. Through this contact he established payments to a number of people in China via Western Union and MoneyGram. Payments were made to these accounts from locations in Boston, Peterborough and Isleworth, London. More than 40 payments totalling in excess of £36K ($50K - averaging about $2000 per kilo) were identified from known members of this group. The drugs were then shipped back to named but unconnected persons at a minimum of seven addresses in the UK (including Isleworth, Peterborough, Sleaford and Boston). Significantly, the search at Peterborough on August 16th produced a receipt showing that the day before on August 15th Liumas had sent over £1800 ($2300) to a contact in China and forensic analysis of his phone showed that he sent a copy of this receipt to a Kacafajus Londonas, who was later identified as Rimantas Zigaras.
The investigation team was able to link most of these addresses to the OCG, albeit they had used names not associated with themselves as the intended recipient. Also, in September 2015 a package containing 1kg bound for an address linked to Daugintis and Cvetkov was intercepted at Stansted Airport. The drugs were shipped in packages ranging in size from 200g to 1kg.
In January four people were arrested in London and Peterborough. During the same month Liumas, Cvetkov, Daugintis were additionally arrested and all seven were charged with the importation conspiracy. Further laptops and phones were recovered along with identity documents linking these people to the electronic transfer of money to China.
In June last year the following four men were sentenced for conspiracy to supply Class B drugs. Liumas, Cvetkov, and Daugintis were also sentenced for conspiracy to import Class B drugs:
DS Ian Brookes said: “The investigation was complicated by the nature of the recovered substances.
“The four kilos recovered from Louth were a substance named TH-PVP, which, although illegal, had never been tested before by our drug analysts. Other recovered substances included 4F-alpha-PHP, which had also previously never been seen before, and some which remain unidentified.
“It became obvious that the drugs must have been sourced overseas and produced in laboratories. Financial enquiries showed members of the OCG had transferred tens of thousands of pounds in cash via Western Union and MoneyGram, to unknown Chinese contacts in Beijing.”
DC Nick Hakes added: “The most significant breakthrough came when the team found evidence on a laptop of online conversations between Liumas and three illicit chemical manufacturing facilities in China. The content of these messages detailed the specific intent to purchase illegal substances and import them into the country, disguised as other materials and sent in small amounts in an effort to avoid detection.”