A COCAINE dealer recruited his own mother-in-law into his drugs gang and paid her to store, cut and package his product.

Callum Welch, 23, used 53-year-old Lorraine Anthony as a cog in a profitable criminal enterprise he was running in Newport.

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Anthony was hired by her son-in-law to do five shifts for him at the rate of £50 per stint to help him keep his customers happy.

When police arrested Welch they seized £7,500 of drugs money from him as well as a mobile phone with hundreds of text messages related to trafficking.

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Jenny Yeo, prosecuting, said: “In one message Anthony is asking if the drugs are being delivered and if she is cutting tonight.

“She was a custodian and was doing the weighing, cutting and packaging.”

Mrs Yeo told Newport Crown Court: “Welch had an operational role in the chain and was organising others.

“He played a leading role. Anthony had a limited role and was acting under direction.”

Welch, of Windrush Close, Bettws, Newport, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine and cannabis as well as money laundering.

Anthony, of Lea Close, Bettws, Newport, admitted being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

Welch was jailed for 32 months in 2019 for possession of crack cocaine with intent to supply.

Anthony had no previous convictions.

Gareth Williams, mitigating for father-of-three Welch, said: “He hasn’t learnt his lesson.

"The defedant tried to apply for jobs but found it too easy to fall back into offending.

“He does regret it.”

Byron Broadstock, representing Anthony, said: “She had turned to drink because of the stress."

He added: "She was naive in some respects.

“This process has proved to be a sobering experience for her.

“There is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.

“She is 53 and has never troubled the criminal courts before. This is her first experience of court.”

The judge, Recorder David Harris, told Welch: “You orchestrated a number of people.

“You organised them and involved them in the collection of money.”

He added: “You benefitted considerably. The profits you gained were considerable.”

Welch was sent to prison for 40 months.

Anthony was jailed for eight months, suspended for 12 months, ordered to complete a 12-day rehabilitation activity requirement and pay a £156 surcharge.

Welch is due to face a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing.