A Lithuanian man attempted to smuggle almost 10 kilograms of MDMA into Northern Ireland through the mail, an announcement from the UK’s National Crime Agency explained. At a hearing in early June, a judge at Newry Crown Court sentenced the man to two and a half years in prison.
NCA officers arrested the defendant, Lukas Urbutis, 25, at his home in Camlough, Newry, in September 2017. The NCA worked alongside the Border Force and Police Service of Northern Ireland in a case that went from arrest to sentencing in a relatively short period of time. Especially for a case that involved almost $700,000 worth of MDMA. The monetary value attached to the drugs, of course, came from the dreaded “police-math.”
Billy Beattie, commander of the NCA’s branch in Belfast, said that the NCA, the Border Force, and the PSNI “have undoubtedly prevented criminal gangs making substantial profit, which would have been re-invested in further illegal activity.” He added that the NCA—and specifically his officers—will “pursue and disrupt” drug importation networks and the criminals responsible for supplying drugs and fostering violence.
At an undisclosed date in 2017, the Border Force intercepted the 10-kilo pack of MDMA at a Belfast mail depot. The package contained “almost” 10 kilograms of MDMA in its crystalized form. Unsurprisingly, the package had been sent by a supplier in the Netherlands. Although the number from the police-math may or may not have been an accurate representation of what Urbutis had planned on earning through distribution of the product, (“almost”) 10 kilograms of MDMA would have undoubtedly fetched a significant profit of broken down and resold drugs on the street. And that is what the 25-year-old had planned to do with the MDMA, the police believed.
Darknet drug dealers, after a package seizure, inherently face a much more immediate threat than the drug buyer. Buyers are generally safe from investigation when they purchase in small quantities. Only when compared to the darknet vendors selling large quantities of drugs, though. Buyers in most countries fear package seizures; while law enforcement rarely hunts down buyers, an intercepted package of drugs is the equivalent of an arrest falling into law enforcement’s lap. And, unlike the packages of ecstasy ordered by small-time buyers in the Netherlands, a 10-kilo pack elicits more than a simple “knock and talk.”
The Border Force Assistant Director of Northern Ireland, John Oldham, said that the Border Force tirelessly works to prevent packages like Urbutis’ from entering the UK. “This vital work to intercept harmful class A substances includes securing postal routes into the UK,” he explained.
Urbutis will spend five years on the sentence ordered by a judge at Newry Crown Court. The first half of the sentence will be spent in prison and the second half will be spent on licence leave that is supervised. Urbutis faces extradition but unlikely will see a move. UK licence conditions often require the criminal to live at a permanent address where they can receive visits from their supervising officer.