19th Oct, 2018

Solihull crime lord convicted of 'industrial scale' drug smuggling operation

Felix Nobes 13th Jun, 2018 Updated: 14th Jun, 2018

A SOLIHULL man has been found guilty of being the head of an organised crime group involved in smuggling drugs on an ‘industrial scale’.

James Mulvey was arrested in Lithuania following a two year investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Following a ten week trial at Birmingham Crown Court, Mulvey was convicted of four counts of importing and exporting cocaine and cannabis between May 2006 and February 2007.

He was sentenced to 32 years yesterday (June 13).

The NCA worked with the West Midlands Regional Asset Recovery team, HMRC, and law enforcement in over nine countries to collate evidence which proved Mulvey was the mastermind behind a drugs conspiracy.

Mulvey used his haulage businesses ran by members of his network to import drugs from Holland to Ireland via the UK.

The crime boss lived a lavish lifestyle which included the purchase of a €1.4million (£1.2million) villa in Spain, numerous properties in the UK, high-end watches and cars, and a self-confessed £1,000 per week cocaine habit.

In order to hide and access the proceeds of his crimes, Mulvey hired the help of accountants who allegedly created a web of transactions to move the funds through low-tax havens.

Investigators identified over £7.8million originating from unknown sources had been accredited to one company in the Isle of Man.

In February 2007, 20kg of cocaine, 364kg of cannabis and 10kg of cutting agent hidden in metal rollers destined for the UK was seized in Belgium.

Analysis identified 14 previous identical trips made as part of conspiracy one, during which there was the potential for Mulvey to have smuggled an estimated £68million of drugs.

His right hand man Barry Phipps would use fake names to arrange collection of the drugs and rent storage space in the UK for consignments.

Phipps and four others were jailed for a total of 86 years in 2009.

Following the arrest of his associates, Mulvey moved to Spain.

Aware authorities wanted to question him, he went on to live in various countries including Brazil, Holland and Portugal, before returning to the UK in 2012 due to his father’s ill health.

Once here, he became the subject of a surveillance operation by West Midlands Police and the NCA in 2015.

In recordings Mulvey hinted at his illicit connections and standing within the criminal underworld.

Following the murder of his cousin, Gerard Kavanagh, in 2014, Mulvey said: “…but this is what my life was, I’ve tried to get away with it, but I don’t want you involved in it, do you understand how these people work… they kill the people you love.”

Once back in the UK, he lived in luxury hotels for short periods at a time before moving to another in his continued attempts to evade law enforcement.

Adam Warnock, NCA Birmingham branch commander, said: “James Mulvey did his best to live as a ghost, having no conventional footprints in terms of home address, assets or bank accounts.

“Regular changes of phones and constant overseas travel were part of his attempts to evade law enforcement.

“Over a meticulous two year investigation in which over 20 million documents were analysed, we evidenced Mulvey’s standing within international criminal circles and the damaging impact he has had on local communities.

“Our investigation into Mulvey and the proceeds of his crimes continues.”

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