Liverpool man who used UPS to smuggle drugs jailed for 21 years

A man from Liverpool has been jailed for his role in a major international drug smuggling operation.

55-year-old Christopher Gibney, of West Derby, plotted with criminals in the UK and overseas to import Class A drugs into the UK via UPS, a global shipping postal delivery service.

Gibney was sentenced at Mold Crown Court on Friday, 28 June, to 21 years in prison for conspiracy to import and supply Class A drugs.

Three other men were Jailed in March 2021 for their roles in the conspiracy, but Gibney fled to Spain, where he remained on the run for more than three years until being apprehended in the Costa Del Sol and extradited back to the UK.

Daniel Taylor, 44, from Holywell, Darren Roberts, 50, from Bagillt, and Stephen Metcalf, 47, from Bromborough were all jailed for 15 years for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

The court heard that Gibney, a leading member of his organised crime group, worked with criminals in the UK, Holland, and Spain to import heroin and cocaine into the UK via a UPS depot in Deeside, North Wales.

When the drugs arrived at the depot, Taylor, a UPS employee, would intercept the parcels from delivery vans without scanning them, and drive to meet Roberts to hand the packages over. The parcels would then be handed over to Stephen Metcalf who collected them on behalf of Christopher Gibney.

It is estimated that more than 150 packages were imported between May 2019 and October 2020.  

Their sophisticated operation came crashing down because of Operation Venetic – an international operation targeting criminals who used a mobile encryption service ‘EncroChat’ to try and evade detection.

After trawling through messages between the crime group, detectives were able to prove that Gibney was the owner of handles ‘Hastyshark’ and ‘Lobsterball’.  

They uncovered multiple messages between the group which included pictures of waybills to show that the parcels were ready to go, as well as pictures of the drugs themselves.

Detective Inspector Dave Worthington from the NWROCU’s Operations Team said, “This group, led by Gibney, ran a sophisticated operation, using waybills to import multi kilos of Class A drugs into the UK, some of which is highly likely to have ended up on UK streets. They made huge sums of money from their criminal activity, and the length of the prison sentence Gibney has received today demonstrates the seriousness of his offending.

“Gibney mistakenly thought that he could get away with conducting his criminal business by using the encrypted mobile platform EncroChat – but he was sadly mistaken.

“My officers worked meticulously to identify who the Encro handles belonged to, to ensure the organised crime group were brought to justice. 

“Thankfully, the final member of the crime group has now been sentenced for his involvement which brings the total sentencing to 66 years.”

Neil Keeping, NCA Regional Manager for Spain, said, “Gibney went to great lengths to evade capture, but through intense work by the Spanish National Police and our overseas officers, we located and arrested him on the Costa del Sol before extraditing him to the UK.

“He was the figurehead of an organised crime group responsible for importing millions of pounds worth of harmful drugs into the UK. Dismantling these crime groups is crucial to protect the UK public from the devastating impact drug supply has on our communities.   

“Today’s result should serve as a stark warning to criminals who think they can evade authorities abroad – we will catch you, and you will face justice.”

Image: Christopher Gibney

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