Mum made £145,000 selling imported drugs on WhatsApp to 10,000 people by post

A mum who sold imported drugs from her home on Whatsapp for thousands of pounds and then sent them to her customers in the post has been jailed.

Shalane Hodder, 36, was found with more than 92,000 tablets – worth up to £112,000 – at her home in Trinant, Caerphilly, and at a caravan in Blackwood.

Hodder had received payments of £145,000 from January to September in 2019 which had been made through dealing to a customer network of almost 10,500 people in more than 100 Whatsapp groups she was in.

Her partner, Laurie Parfitt, 31, and brother Rhys Dee, 28 were also involved in the scheme by using their bank accounts to launder money.

A sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court on Friday heard officers executed a warrant at Hodder and Parfitt’s address on September 16, 2019.

During the search police recovered several thousands of tablets and pills, as well as cannabis and cash from the property.

Upon her arrest the defendant said to officers: “There’s some value in there – a few thousand.”

Recorder David Harris told the defendant: “This was a large-scale operation. I imagine it grew and by the time you were arrested it had become a substantial commercial operation .

“You were using your home as a base to sell Class C drugs in the main that you had imported from India to a large body of customers you had made contact with via WhatsApp.

“You likely profited substantially from this operation and the sum you received amounted to £145,000.”

The total amount of tablets found came to 92,034 and it took six months for officers to identify the types of drugs involved and their respective quantities.

In the house was a small room adjacent to the kitchen which was used as an office and phones and laptops were recovered as part of the investigation.

There was also an address book containing names, numbers, and drug orders.

A key to a caravan was also seized and a caravan in Pen-y-Fan park in Oakdale was searched where a large number of blue tablets were seized.

Mobile phones were analysed and found evidence of a vast amount of dealing to customers in the UK and Ireland in the form of WhatsApp messages.

Hodder would send customers receipts for drugs, they would then send cash deposits to back accounts belonging to her or Dee and she would parcel the drugs and take them to Crumlin Post Office to be sent by mail.

The youngest customer that Hodder sold to was 17 years old, the court heard, with the teenager ordering Xanax on five occasions.

Accounts belonging to Dee were found to contain more than £13,000 in unexplained payments over a two-week period.

Parfitt’s accounts received a total of £11,276 in payments from Hodder’s account which related to drug dealing.

In her police interview Hodder admitted dealing and said she became involved after becoming addicted to Valium, which introduced her to the WhatsApp groups and she began selling herself.

The defendant sourced the drugs mainly from India as well as Siberia and on occasion from the UK.

She claimed she made £3,000 a month from dealing and began dealing drugs on behalf of others, receiving a salary between £300 and £500.

She also claimed half of the drugs found in her home and in the caravan belonged to other people.

When asked if she was pressurised into selling drugs, Hodder replied: “Yes, by society for money.”

Hodder, of Philip Street, later pleaded guilty to being concerned in fraudulent evasion of a prohibition on the importation of controlled drugs, supplying controlled drugs, supplying a psychoactive substance, and possession with intent to supply controlled drugs.

Parfitt, of Philip Street, and Dee, of Belvedere Close, Trinant, both pleaded guilty to possession of criminal property.

In mitigation defence barrister Thomas Stanway said his client’s difficulties stemmed from her childhood when she was rejected by her biological parents and her grandparents who cared for her died when she was 14.

He said Hodder had been the victim of a homophobic attack when she was 17 and suffered from anxiety which led her to becoming addicted to codeine.

Mr Stanway said due to the large client base Hodder found her operation grew quicker than expected and “spiralled out of control”.

Hodder was sentenced to two years and six months in prison while Parfitt was sentenced to a 12-month community order and told to complete 50 hours unpaid work.

Dee was sentenced to a 12-month community order and a four-month electronic curfew.