Investigators from the National Crime Agency (NCA) chased down a drug trafficking ring after finding a lawnmower. In 2015, the NCA intercepted a package from the Netherlands—really a crate from the Netherlands—that contained 11 packages of MDMA hidden within a lawnmower. There, an investigation began.

The investigation closed in February 2016 after the NCA gathered more than enough evidence to bring forth a guilty conviction. Fast forward to May 2017; the crew received sentences as lengthy as 14 years in prison and as brief as four months at a prison camp.

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Neil Snazel, a defendant with one of the 14 year sentences, imported more than a literal ton of Class A and B drugs in lawnmower shipments. Snazel shipped the products to Derek Maguire who kept them in a storage locker at his house. Maguire stored ecstasy, cannabis and ketamine. Within a four-month period of time, Snazel arranged shipment of 15 more pieces of machinery, stuffed with illegal drugs.

At Minshull Street Crown Court, both Snazel and Maguire recently received a sentence of 14 years in prison. Maguire employed his 23-year-old daughter, Beth Maguire; his daughter’s boyfriend, a 24-year-old handed Jack Rhodes; and his 33-year-old nephew, Mark Maguire.

The family (and boyfriend) distributed the drugs shipped in by Snazel. Mark Maguire and Jack Rhodes received a “12 month sentence (suspended for two years) and 3 years and 9 months respectively.” Rhodes faced additional charges from the Greater Manchester Police regarding production and trafficking, hence his additional time. The court sentenced Mark Maguire to 10 days in a drug rehabilitation program, as well.

Beth Maguire received two concurrent four-month prison sentences for allowing the others to use her apartment as a place of business. (Sentence suspended with a two year clause.)

After authorities intercepted the first package from the Netherlands, NCA officers found 14 similar lawnmower shipments made between July and October 2015. After a brief glance at the shipping labels, the NCA connected Derek Maguire to the importation of over 1,033 kilograms of drugs. Then, through phone records and CCTV footage, officers linked Snazel, Rhodes, Beth Maguire and Mark Maguire to the same crime. Law enforcement also charged a 40-year-old man but they later acquitted him.

Jon Hughes, NCA operations manager said:

The huge quantities of illegal substances this group imported made them a significant criminal network. After the initial seizure by Thames Valley Police (TVP), NCA investigators were able to provide evidence that Derek Maguire distributed large amounts of class A and B drugs across Manchester, imported by Snazel. By bringing this group and others like it to justice, we ensure the public are protected from the harm that the criminal drugs trade does to communities. Working with law enforcement partners we are determined to disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups intent on smuggling harmful commodities into the country.”