London: A member of the organized crime ring that sent nearly half a tonne of MDMA to Australia helped investigators uncover his own gang by sending a photo of his dog with his partner’s phone number attached.
Danny Brown, from Bromley, south London, sent pictures of his new French bulldog, Bob, to accomplice Stefan Baldauf, while a 40-tonne consignment worth $82 million was scheduled to arrive in Brisbane in 2020 excavator.
Investigators from Britain’s National Crime Agency amplified the phone number and used it — along with a host of other tactics in a painstaking investigation — to prove Brown was part of the conspiracy. The dog was present when Brown was arrested.
Brown, 55, and Baldauf, 62, also sent accidental selfies of themselves on the encrypted communications platform EncroChat, giving investigators additional evidence of their involvement in the scheme to stash the drug, also known as ecstasy in the victim’s arm. Industrial equipment and delivered 16,000 kilometers.
Brown, Baldauf and a third gang member, Leon Reilly, 50, were found guilty of trafficking drugs with three other men at Kingston Crown Court in June. London time on Tuesday, Brown was sentenced to 26 years in prison, Baldauf 28 years and Riley 24 years.
The trio and their accomplices conspired in late 2019 and early 2020 to ship the 77.5 per cent pure drug to Australia, where street prices for MDMA are much higher than in the UK. The gang bought a Doosan DX420 excavator for 75,000 euros ($117,000), shipped it to Australia under the pretense of selling it, and organized an online auction to make the vehicle’s arrival appear legitimate.
The court was told that they rigged the auction by striking pre-arranged bids with the intended recipients, however when the diggers started gaining some attention online and some potential buyers, the group panicked.
The court heard Riley messaged Brown on the app saying: “There are six people watching.”
Brown replied, “Fuck, that’s not good.”