AN international drugs plot which saw a Burnley man’s terraced house masquerade as an outpost for a Shanghai pharmaceuticals firm has led to him being jailed for five years.

Christopher Pounder, 26, of Parkinson Street, acted as a front for a wide-ranging operation which saw 27kg barrels of benzocaine shipped from China to bogus chemical companies in the UK, Preston Crown Court heard. His Burnley Wood home was the delivery address, on at least one occasion, for ‘Chemax’, which had been falsely labelled as methyl cellulose, often used as a constipation medication.

Undercover customs investigators had intercepted similar deliveries though and eventually uncovered a complex network for supplying benzocaine.

The barrels were allowed to reach their final destination, allowing police to make more than a dozen arrests.

Prosecutors said while benzocaine was not a controlled drug, it was commonly used as a ‘cutting agent’ for cocaine. The white powder has the same numbing effect on nasal passages as cocaine, making it a favourite among organised drug dealers.

Jurors were told that around 600kg of the drug were brought into the country.

Brothers Darryl and Simon Walsh, who arranged deliveries to Pounder’s home, were each jailed for eight years, after they admitted to assisting in the supply of class A drugs. Clifford Hall, from Milton Keynes, who was convicted of drugs conspiracy during the same trial as Pounder, was jailed for seven years.

Eight other plotters from the Greater Manchester and Derbyshire areas were given jail sentences ranging from 56 months to suspended prison terms.

l Three other defendants, from the Burnley area, who had pleaded not guilty to taking part in the benzocaine plot, were either cleared by trial judge Andrew Woolman, earlier in the proceedings, or acquitted by a jury.