A RAMSBOTTOM man has been jailed for his role in picking up huge amounts of cocaine from ports across the UK.

Pasquelino Mazzuca’s work as courier for drug dealer Alexander Hepworth was uncovered after police officers raided the 53-year-old’s Bury-based premises and found over 2,000 ecstasy tablets.

WhatsApp messages between the pair revealed how Mazzuca, of Holden Avenue, was travelling to Plymouth and Harwich, and taking delivery of drugs directly off arriving boats.

At Minshull Street Crown Court, Wayne Jackson, prosecuting, outlined the details of the operation, describing Mazzuca as Hepworth’s “right-hand man”.

Mr Jackson said officers raided a unit at Chesham Industrial Estate in Bury in July 2019. They found 2,132 ecstasy tablets worth around £20,000 on the premises with Mazzuca’s fingerprints on the bags.

Phone messages led officers to Hepworth, of Alden Road, Helmshore, and they found the pair where delivering quantities of cocaine “in large quantities” of up to one kilo.

Officers estimate at least 30kg of cocaine was trafficked across the country with an estimated value of £3m.

The drugs were often transported hidden inside tubs of e45 moisturising cream.

Hepworth, 30, played the leading role and would give instructions to Mazzuca on where to go and how much cash to collect along with details of vehicles and “passwords” to use.

Hepworth was also found to use expensive encrypted phones which are difficult for officers to recover data from.

Defending Mazzuca, Ronan Maguire, said he had begun working with Hepworth to pay off debts and was previously a man of good character.

Julian Goode, defending Hepworth, said his client had two young children who he had seen just once while on remand for the last 17 months.

Jailing Mazzuca, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and possession of ecstasy with intent to supply, to 11 years and two months imprisonment, and Hepworth to 16 years and nine months, Judge Sophie McKone, said: “When you become involved in this level of drug dealing it has to attract very lengthy custodial sentences.”