The owner of a used car dealership in Norwich has been jailed after he was unmasked as the mastermind behind the £7m ‘Deliveroo drugs ring’.
Robert Fuller disguised couriers as Deliveroo drivers and used his second-hand car business to launder money and import huge quantities of cocaine and cannabis into the country.
His huge operation was eventually uncovered when police discovered encrypted messages relating to the plot, leading the 50-year-old to flee to Bali in an attempt to evade justice.
The dealer – dubbed ‘The Drugs Baron Norfolk Broads’ –was eventually captured as he tried to re enter the UK via an Ireland to Anglesey ferry in January of last year.
He has now appeared at Norwich Crown Court where he was sentenced to 12 years behind bars for leading the audacious criminal enterprise.
The court heard that the scheme fell apart when police infiltrated the now defunct messaging service ‘EncroChat’, which was used primarily by criminals.
Fuller’s exchanges included messages about dressing drug runners in fake Deliveroo outfits to avoid detection as well plans to import liquid cocaine from Peru in jars of asparagus.
He also attempted to buy a Russian Makarov handgun using his handle ‘Quasifighter’ and planned to use recovery trucks from his used car business to move both drugs and cash.
The messages were uncovered by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), which said Fuller had been involved in selling and distributing 159kg of cocaine – worth around £6.5m – and 98kg of cannabis worth around £364,000, between February 2019 and June 2020.
A later search of his home and car sales business in August 2021 uncovered the Deliveroo uniforms mentioned in his chats and a vehicle with secret drugs hides.
He admitted to conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis in April 2022 and will now spend the coming years in prison, following a sentencing hearing yesterday (October 31).
Detective Inspector Jim Fincham, from ERSOU’s regional organised crime unit, said: ‘Robert Fuller was a high-level criminal who, it’s clear, played a significant role in selling class A drugs across the UK.
‘He went to great lengths to mask his activity, using hides in vehicles and disguised couriers to move cash and drugs, and laundering the illicit cash through a car sales company.
‘Despite Fuller’s attempts to evade justice, our diligent investigators continued their enquiries after he had left the county, and police were waiting the moment he arrived back into the UK.
‘Our region is a safer place now that he is behind bars, and I’d like to thank everyone involved in bringing him to justice.’
Main pic: Norwich Crown Court, where Fuller was sentenced. ©PA Images