Court seizes £1.8million from a former KFC worker who ran a worldwide drugs operation from his semi-detached house in Harborough

The business studies graduate pretended to be a tea trader after setting up an astonishing international drugs empire
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A jailed Market Harborough drugs baron has had over £1.8 million seized by a court.

Paul Johnson, 32, ran the worldwide drugs racket from the loft of his semi-detached house in Northampton Road, Market Harborough.

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The former KFC fast food worker was locked up for eight years at Leicester Crown Court in February.

Paul Johnson.Paul Johnson.
Paul Johnson.

Johnson was hauled back to the same court to face a proceeds of crime hearing to confiscate his ill-gotten gains.

The business studies graduate pretended to be a tea trader after setting up an astonishing international drugs empire.

Yorkshire-born Johnson imported and sold over 400lbs of heroin, cocaine, LSD, cannabis and ketamine.

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He dealt in bitcoin cryptocurrency currency on the internet's ‘dark web’ – a favourite haunt of hardcore criminals all over the globe.

Johnson lived in Market Harborough with his wife, Lia Johnson, now known as Lia Taylor-Walton, the court heard.

The criminal couple have since split up.

Judge Martin Hurst said Paul Johnson had made a staggering £2,183,304 from his highly-professional drugs operation.

But the amount available for confiscation was set at £1,837,601.

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Johnson is said to have already signed over the huge figure.

Judge Hurst ordered it should be paid within three months.

A £20,000 Range Rover and a £3,300 Nissan Juke are among other assets to be sold off.

Johnson's wife drove both motors as he did not drive.

Johnson was jailed earlier this year after he admitted supplying class A and B drugs, possession with intent to supply class A drugs, improper importation of goods – class A and B drugs – to the UK and five counts of money laundering.

At the same time Taylor-Walton, 28, was given a two-year jail sentence, suspended for two years.

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She admitted acquiring criminal property, their home, and both defendants admitted similar counts over both their vehicles.

Taylor-Walton pocketed £143,040 and the available amount to be seized from her was £134,872, the hearing was told.

Johnson was arrested when police swooped on his Northampton Road home in December 2017 after carrying out an exhaustive intelligence operation.

Officers seized a significant stash of drugs, including MDMA tablets, LSD, heroin and ketamine, as well as other drugs paraphernalia.

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Digital media investigators who backed up the lightning raid trapped stunned Johnson red-handed – as he actively traded with Bitcoins on his laptop.

Paul Wenlock, the head of Leicestershire Police economic crime unit, said: “The courts agreed that the crimes committed by Paul Johnson meant the couple had both benefited financially.

“The court has made the confiscation order and if the order is not satisfied, then potentially Paul Johnson will serve a further 10 years in default, and Lia Johnson will serve 2 years in default.”

He added: “Money and assets recovered after confiscation orders are granted are submitted to the Home Office and a percentage is then returned to the police, criminal justice system and used to compensate victims of crime.

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“The Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) is an important piece of legislation which allows the police to recover assets from criminals and ‘take the cash out of crime’.

“Those convicted of crime should not be allowed to benefit financially even after they have served their sentences.”