Monday 19 November 2012
Following extensive investigations by the Guernsey Border Agency (GBA) 68-year-old Michael Falla, his 51-year-old wife Mandy Falla and two of their children, 20-year-old Charles and 17-year-old Alexander all appeared in the Royal Court on 16 November 2012 after admitting their part in a family conspiracy to import and supply Class B controlled drugs valued between £258,000 and £344,000.
The Court heard evidence of 24 separate postal importations containing in excess of 15,600 Mephedrone tablets, together with their supply. Addition evidence was heard in relation to a separate importation of 1.588 kilos of synthetic cannabinoids, JWH-073 and JWH-250, concealed within a car.
By way of background, following a number of separate encounters with law enforcement where a taser, pepper spray, friction lock batons, £7,700 in cash and other related items were seized it was suspected that members of the Falla family were concerned with drug related activities. The GBA through its joint tasking and coordination process with the Police then launched a proactive investigation into the then believed drug related activities of Charles Falla which rapidly grew to include other members of his family.
Evidence was gathered that confirmed that Charles and Alexander Falla were involved in the supply of pills and potentially other controlled drugs.
On the 19 May 2011 uniformed GBA Officers working at Guernsey Post identified a parcel addressed to the home address of Michael Le Huray, a known associate of Charles. The parcel had a return address belonging to a fulfillment company in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. When opened the parcel was found to contain 1,504 LUDove tablets which were subsequently found to contain Mephedrone.
GBA Officers subsequently executed a Search Warrant where Le Huray and Charles Falla were both found at the premises and arrested. After a brief period on bail they were charge and remanded in custody.
Financial investigations conducted by the GBA identified a large number of suspicious transactions between June 2010 and May 2011 including numerous payments or transfers totalling in excess of £62,000 to a Jersey resident. Majority of these payments were made by Mandy and Michael Falla, despite the family having limited legitimate income.
The GBA then coordinated a multijurisdictional operation and obtained assistance from both the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and Jersey Police. It soon became clear that Charles had placed multiple orders of Mephedrone tablets with the Jersey resident between June 2010 and May 2011.
The UKBA searched the warehouse of the fulfillment company who dispatched the parcel. From its records the fulfillment company was able to provide details of 19 consignments of Mephedrone tablets which had been dispatched to members of the Falla family and five which had been sent to Le Huray's home address. Each consignment had been dispatched by Recorded Delivery on the instruction of the Jersey resident. The majority of which had been signed for by Mandy or Michael Falla. Le Huray had signed for at least three of the five consignments that had been sent to his home address.
On 24 July 2011 Michael & Mandy Falla arrived on the ferry from St Malo with their Vauxhall Astra when they were stopped and questioned by uniformed GBA Officers. 17 tape wrapped packages containing 1.588 kilos of the synthetic cannabinoids, JWH-073 and JWH-250, were found to be concealed in the doors of the vehicle. Michael & Mandy Falla claimed to have no knowledge of the packages concealed in their vehicle.
At Plea & Direction Hearings in the Royal Court Guilty Pleas were received in respect of the following offences:-
- Michael and Mandy Falla - Conspiracy to transfer the proceeds to Drug Trafficking away from the Bailiwick of Guernsey between June 2010 & May 2011 and the importation of Class B controlled drugs, namely synthetic cannabinoids JWH-073 & JWH-250.
- Charles Falla - Importation and conspiracy to supply Class B controlled drugs, namely Mephedrone tablets between June 2010 & May 2011.
- Alexander Falla - Conspiracy to supply Class B controlled drugs, namely Mephedrone tablets between June 2010 & May 2011.
Michael Le Huray admitted his guilt to being concerned in three of the five importations of Mephedrone tablets which were delivered to his home address and was sentenced on the 19 May 2012 by the Royal Court to three-and-a-half years imprisonment.
In her summing up in the Royal Court Dame Heather Steel said that misfortune cannot be an excuse for criminal activity and each family member played an important role in this criminal enterprise.
Charles Falla was sentence to eight years Youth Detention for the importation and supply of the Mephedrone tablets.
Michael and Mandy Falla were each sentenced to eight years imprisonment for the drug trafficking offences with four years concurrent for the importation of the JWH.
Alex Falla was sentence to three years eight months Youth Detention for his part in the supply of the Mephedrone tablets.
In addition the same Court issued concurrent sentences to Charles Falla in respect of:-
• The importation of a taser (pistol sized electric shock weapon) and pepper spray, both classified as firearms together with friction lock batons
• Resisting arrest following drunken interjections with Police Officers on Liberation Day 2011 and for subsequently scratching a Police vehicle with his handcuffs.
The Chief Officer of the Guernsey Border Agency said that this case demonstrates the result of taking a holistic approach in tackling serious and organised crime in the Bailiwick. This family group posed a significant threat of harm to the local community by importing and distributing Mephedrone.
The offences of possession of a number of dangerous weapons and other devices such as a 'taser' are tools indicative of serious crime, however, this case is an example of the effective liaison between officers of the Guernsey Border Agency and the Guernsey Police Force, in addition to overseas law enforcement agencies. Guernsey is a safe place to live and such organised criminality is rare, however when identified this prosecution shows the ability of law enforcement within the Bailiwick to respond appropriately and take the action necessary to dismantle such criminal activity.