'Affluent' woman ran drug operation
A businesswoman who masterminded a multimillion-pound party drug operation while living the high life used offshore accounts to siphon off its proceeds.
Former director of defunct football club Chester City Paula White headed an internet-based drug operation that netted more than £3 million.
Police said it was the UK's largest such investigation and spanned the UK to Australia.
White, who lived in a smart part of Greater Manchester in an £800,000 house with a swimming pool, drove an Aston Martin.
Police said she lived an "affluent lifestyle" complete with a "substantial" villa in Spain, wore designer clothing and jewellery, and had garden furniture worth £25,000.
Today White, who was said to have had a "leading role" in the operation, appeared alongside her six co-defendants at Bolton Crown Court for their part in the conspiracy, all awaiting sentence.
On the first day of her trial, White pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class B drugs.
Today the court was told that the party drugs were sold via the main website Wide Mouth Frog. The charges relate to April 2010 to May 2013.
Many of the products contained Class B substances including methedrone and were given named such as "jolly drops", "heaven" and "blue pearls".
Although the legal high outlet was set up as a legitimate business, the products were rendered illegal in 2010.
The court was told that products were offered emblazoned with warnings "not for human consumption" and the company promised next-day delivery.
Prosecutor Francis McEntee described the business as "a very sophisticated and highly profitable operation", adding that the key vehicle was the website Wide Mouth Frog, together with a number of others.
"The Crown says she plays a leading role, she financed this operation, set it up and benefited."
He added that it was "a business running in a very business-like way".
White was said to have set up a number of offshore accounts to siphon off the proceeds.
The operation was run from two premises including a factory, Drake Mill in Farnworth, Bolton, Greater Manchester, that was known as "Area 51".
Police became involved after concerns were raised in the Channel Islands when a sharp rise in drugs was noted.
Mr McEntee said: "At Drake Mill police discovered what was a very sophisticated production system. Class B drugs in mass waiting for preparation together with a range of products that had been branded."
Rudie Chiu, 26, of Manchester; Netta Hymanson, 64, of Prestwich; Sheena Jessop, 47, of Ramsbottom; Christian White, 39, of Salford; and Michaela Doyle 44, of Salford, were previously found guilty of conspiring to supply class B drugs.
In July 2012, a 46-year-old man died after ingesting the same substances that had been found in the products being sold.
Grant Wooldridge from Newbury, Berkshire, died after a festival in Bath.
At his home police found evidence that he had made purchases from the Wide Mouth Frog website.
The coroner concluded that his death had been misadventure.