A DRUG courier who was involved in a large-scale drug operation during the coronavirus pandemic has been jailed.

Owen Acton was only involved in the delivery of cocaine across the country for a week, between June 11 and June 18, 2020.

A court heard that the 24-year-old was ‘easily swayed’ and had been smoking cannabis and gambling at the time he became involved.

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He was arrested in March 2021 after the encrypted chat service the operation was using, EnchroChat, was compromised in the same month he was involved.

At Oxford Crown Court on Friday (May 10) Acton, of Avon Crescent, Bicester, was jailed for 27 months.

Prosecuting the case, barrister Alice Aubrey-Fletcher said police had made arrests in the organised crime group as part of their ‘Operation Somersault’ after it was established that the group were selling large quantities of cocaine.

The defendant was acting as a courier and had only made 12 deliveries of drugs or pick-ups of cash during the week he was involved.

It was heard he would be told where to park and a package would be left in front of his car. He’d then be sent a postcode of where to deliver the package.

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Ms Aubrey-Fletcher said there was a ‘certain regularity’ to the assignments. The court heard he had been paid about £1,000 for the jobs.

He was arrested in March 2021 and his phone was seized where it was found that he was sending messages on the EnchroChat platform using the username ‘Tough Moon’.

Defending Acton, barrister Gordan Auden said: “His involvement was just under a week and he agreed to do these deliveries after he was persuaded by a friend.

“He was someone easily swayed and perhaps still is. He was gambling and he was approached to do a few jobs.”

She added that her client suffers from depression and anxiety but he has since achieved a stable job.

“He is someone determined to more on from these proceedings,” she said. “He will regret this for the rest of his life.”

Sentencing, Recorder Alex Young said: “Class A drugs are the scourge of society and these courts have to deal with the consequences of drugs day in and day out.

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“It was the first summer of the coronavirus pandemic and a lot of people found it hard but they did not resort to criminal activity.

“I hope when you are released that you can put this behind you, you’ve certainly got that in you.”

Acton will serve half of his sentence before being released on licence.