Chocolate boxes stuffed with heroin detected by drugs dogs

A drug dealer admitted trying to bring £30,000’s worth of heroin into Shetland hidden in chocolate boxes and a perfumed spice jar.

Andrew Flaws, 38, appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court via video-link from Grampian prison today (Wednesday) when he pleaded guilty to supplying Class A drugs.

The court heard how drugs dogs had intercepted three packages eventually destined for Flaws between April and June last year at the Royal Mail delivery office in Lerwick.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said the first package was a box of chocolates, which was detected by the dogs on 8th April, 2021.

It contained 25 bags of heroin – totalling 245g – which had been placed in the slots from which the chocolates had been removed.

The package had been addressed to an “associate of the accused” and sent via special delivery with a unique tracking identification number.

The court heard how the second package, which was detected on 17th May, was sent in “almost identical circumstances”.

This time it was addressed to a relatives of the associate, to which the first package had been addressed, and included a lesser amount of the drug – 184g in 17 bags.

Again it was detected by drugs dogs at the Royal Mail delivery office.

Now, Mr MacKenzie said, there was “clearly a pattern emerging”.

Not only were the recipients related, but it seemed those involved in transporting the drugs had started to recognise the risk, and were sending smaller packages.

The third package was smaller again, with 27g sent in a glass “spice jar”, which Mr MacKenzie said had been “heavily perfumed” to put the drug dogs off the scent.

This package had been posted to the accused’s own address in Lerwick, though with a different name. It was discovered by the dogs on 12th June. 

Police searched Flaws’ home and found more packaging with tracking numbers which originated from the same area in Glasgow where the three intercepted packages had been sent from.

Officers also found £1,135 in cash and a mobile phone, which Mr MacKenzie said contained “significant” incriminating messages.

According to phone analysis, Mr MacKenzie said Flaws had clearly been in contact with an associate in Glasgow, arranging for the packages to be sent, including details of the tracking numbers.

After receiving notice that a package had been sent, Mr MacKenzie said Flaws would tell other people it was on its way and to “expect delivery”.

The failure of the first two attempts was also featured in the messages as Flaws made instructions for how to package the third delivery differently.

Mr MacKenzie said it became clear “this was a money making operation”, rather than Flaws simply feeding his own habit.

Flaws himself told police he had been clean for three months.

Mr MacKenzie said the total street value of the seized drugs came to £30,490.

He also noted photos on Flaws’ phone showing a bag apparently containing “significant amounts of heroin” in which he was “seemingly advertising that he had wares for sale”.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said his client’s last sentence had been “some time ago” in 2015 and there was “some mental health issues at play here”.

Mr Allan asked for reports to be produced before sentencing.

Mr MacKenzie applied for the forfeiture of items seized by the police.

Sheriff Iain Cruickshank adjourned the case until 8th June for sentencing following the preparation of criminal justice social worker reports.

The forfeiture application will also be considered then.


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