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Grandmother’s secret double life as ‘Mrs Big’ drugs supplier for prisoners exposed

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·2-min read
Gail Anne Cotton ran the UK side of a drugs racket from her home. (Reach)
Gail Anne Cotton ran the UK side of a drugs racket from her home. (Reach)

A grandmother who cooked class A drugs from her kitchen has been jailed for three years.

Part-time cleaner Gail Anne Cotton made thousands by running the UK operation of an international drugs racket from her home in Oldham, Greater Manchester.

The 55-year-old cooked up batches of the “zombie drug” known as spice that she managed to smuggle into UK jails using sheets of paper that appeared to be letters to prisoners.

Watch: Dog Sniffs Out Drugs Stuffed in Breakfast Burritos, Proves that Food Isn't a Distraction

However, police uncovered her operation when they searched her house last November following a tip-off.

Police found £5,000 in cash, four mobile phones, five SIM cards, digital scales, "designer cannabis" worth £140, 940g of spice with a street value between £4,080 and £9,400, and 355g of MDMA with a value of between £10,400 and £14,200.

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 05: A man prepares to smoke K2 or
Spice can cause extreme reactions in some users. (Getty/file photo)

Officers also discovered two Vanish tubs under the sink containing a “white, rock-like substance” that tests showed was a stash of cocaine worth £6,000.

One of Cotton’s phones contained numerous messages about selling spice and showed she played a leading role in conspiring to produce the substance.

Messages between her and a contact in Australia, named in Minshull Street Crown Court as "Joe MacAussie", indicated she was operating the UK side of a drugs operation.

Cotton’s defence lawyer stressed that there were “others involved”, telling the court: “There may be others above her – that is a real possibility and there is nothing on her record that aggravates her position.”

The court heard how Cotton imported ingredients from China and supplied spice around Britain’s jails.

Gail Anne Cotton was jailed for three years at Minshull Street Crown Court. (Reach)
Gail Anne Cotton was jailed for three years at Minshull Street Crown Court. (Reach)

Judge Tina Landale told the court that spice “can cause bullying, intimidation and serious crime and pressure on the families to bring it in”.

She added: “For the staff in prison it causes lawlessness, bad behaviour and aggression.

"The value of the drugs – cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis and spice – is high and the profit to be made was very considerable.”

Cotton, of Melling Road, Oldham, was sentenced to three years after being convicted of conspiring to produce spice with intent to supply, possession of cocaine with intent to supply, possession of ecstasy and MDMA with intent to supply and possession of cannabis with intent to supply.

Watch: Shocking video shows prisoner on Spice