A MAN has been sentenced to six and a half years imprisonment after running an operation supplying materials to create cocaine.

James Beeby, 51, of Hammy Lane, Shoreham was sentenced at Chichester Crown Court yesterday (January 4) after being convicted in November of being concerned in the supply of cocaine and money laundering after an eight-day trial.

In addition to a six and a half year sentence for cocaine supply, Beeby was given a two-year sentence to run concurrently for money laundering.

He also pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a weapon, after police recovered a stun gun and pepper spray during their investigation.

His conviction and sentencing follows an investigation by the West Sussex Community Investigation Team into the supply of cutting agents, including benzocaine, boric acid and phenacetin, to customers in the UK and abroad.

Border Force officers intercepted eight packages between August 2017 and December 2018, which has been sent from China to two addresses in Sussex connected to Beeby.

Some 320 kilograms of the cutting agent were recovered during the police investigation from premises linked to him, with financial evidence revealing how over £150,000 had passed through his bank account during that time.

Investigators found that more than 1,370 kilograms of cutting agent, with a total estimated resale value of £1.3 million, passed through his hands. That amount of cutting agent, when cut with cocaine, had the potential to produce drugs with a street value of up to £20 million.

Upon his arrest in May 2019, Beeby attempted to portray himself as a legitimate business selling the chemicals for various uses, despite his websites offering assurances of discretion and the sheer quantities making legitimate use extremely unlikely.

During the trial, evidence was heard from a drugs expert witness about phone messages recovered from his phone, and evidence that he had purchased the cutting agents, showing his knowledge of their intended use in the supply of cocaine.

Detective Inspector Alan Pack of the West Sussex Community Investigation Team said: "This investigation and outcome demonstrates our commitment to disrupt all part of drug supply which we know can blight our communities everywhere."

Action against Beeby continues, with a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act, for potential seizure of assets identified by investigators, on May 24 at the same court.

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