A gym owner’s drug smuggling plot was busted when police found texts in which he told an associate how to ‘clean’ his dirty money.
Nicholas Whitcombe, who was fined for refusing to close his Body Tech Fitness site in Moreton during lockdown, was described by a judge as a “professional drug dealer”.
His role in the trafficking scheme was exposed through an investigation by the Jersey’s customs and immigration department.
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Jersey’s Royal Court heard Whitcombe worked with Anthony Andrew Dryden in a plot valued at more than £54,000.
Between 2018 and 2019 the pair, both 31, were involved in a conspiracy to traffic cannabis resin into the island and launder the money, with Whitcombe operating from Merseyside and Dryden from Jersey.
Prosecutors said Whitcombe would source the drugs and instruct people to send them from England to a third party at their work address in Jersey, the Bailiwick Express reported.
The packages were then picked up by Dryden, who sold them, collected the cash and sent it back to UK addresses provided by Whitcombe.
Between June and September of 2018 a total of 3.1kg was imported into Jersey and three exports of cash were sent out, totalling £16,750.
There appeared to be a “cooling off” period after contacts of Whitcombe sent a package to the wrong address before, in December 2018, Whitcombe told Dryden he was handing the UK side of their scheme over to a friend.
(Image: Nick Whitcombe/Instagram)
Using that contact Dryden then imported an estimated 500g to 1kg of cannabis in March 2019, and thanked Whitcombe for helping to set up the new supply line.
In June 2019, Dryden was also involved in importing 451.69g of cannabis resin alone.
Dryden was arrested the following month, and his mobile phone was seized.
The phone revealed text messages between him and Whitcombe that detailed their exploits, and Whitcombe’s suggestions to Dryden on how to launder money.
One text sent by Whitcombe, from Birkenhead, read: “You get to clean your money and you’ll slowly get better at it and eventually it’ll be your legit business.”
Following a gap of two years, in July 2021 Dryden was arrested again, and Whitcombe was arrested, brought back to Jersey and charged.
On Wednesday they were sentenced before Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae, sitting with Jurats Jerry Ramsden, Joanne Kim Averty, and Gareth Hughes.
Prosecuting, Crown Advocate Richard Pedley recommended to the court that both men be sentenced to three years and six months in prison.
Advocate George Pearce, defending Dryden, said his client had asked him to “apologise to the court for his actions and for finding himself before the court again”.
Advocate Julian Gollop, representing Whitcombe, highlighted that two years had passed between …….