A drug dealer who imported cannabis from America has been locked up after his illegal enterprise caught the attention of a regional crime squad.

Steven Munsey was using BITCOIN to import high-quality cannabis bush from California and having parcels of it delivered to addresses in the Redcar area.

The 32-year-old had been using the name ‘Ghostbudders’ when he was importing and selling illegal drugs and using cryptocurrency to try and hide his illicit funds.

Teesside Crown Court heard how he advertised the drugs on Instagram and paid thousands of pounds into his business bank account from sales of many kilos from California and Oregon in parcels labelled tee-shirts.

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An investigation was launched when two international packages were intercepted from the United States on February 19, 2020. The packages contained various cannabis products hidden in clothing and cosmetic items.

The Northern Echo: Steven MunseySteven Munsey (Image: North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU))

Officers from the North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU), with the support of Cleveland Police Neighbourhood Teams, NCA and Border Force, carried out an extensive partner operation to target Munsey and seize any illicit cash and drugs from his illegal operation.

A search of the addresses connected to the Darlington drug dealer turned up more than £6,000 in cash, mobile phones, drug paraphernalia and a large quantity of cannabis products in various forms.

The Northern Echo: Some of the drugs seized by North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU)Some of the drugs seized by North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU) (Image: North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU))

Munsey was arrested and subsequently charged with two counts of importation/exportation offences, possession of Class A with intent to supply and four other possession charges.

Alex Menary, defending said in mitigation that Munsey had been addicted to cannabis but he had weaned himself off it since his arrest in July 2020.

The defendant, of Geneva Road, Darlington, but formerly of Redcar, was jailed for two years and four months after pleading guilty to the charges.

Recorder Geraldine Kelly said that it was a sophisticated enterprise and that Munsey had travelled to California, where the cannabis was legal, but it was illegal in the UK and was a dangerous product.

The Northern Echo: Evidence of Steven Munsey's drugs enterpriseEvidence of Steven Munsey's drugs enterprise (Image: North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU))

Speaking after the sentencing, NEROCU Sergeant Neil Lovat, said: “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.

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“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.

The Northern Echo: Some of the drugs seized from Steven MunseySome of the drugs seized from Steven Munsey (Image: North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU))

“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.