If you want to make a career of illegal growing and dealing, you might want to refrain from photographing the evidence for police. A “career criminal” in Coventry just got locked up for years because he didn’t clear his phone’s camera, and taking out this week’s dumbest dealer award.
Ruining a good thing
Dealing illegally could be compared to having an affair. One of three things always gets you busted.
- Being caught in the act
- Someone talking about it
- Keeping a souvenir
29-year-old Nigel Barwell just found out the hard way that a picture is worth a thousand words. Mind you, this guy wasn’t the smoothest criminal in the first place. Already in prison on remand for dangerous driving and ramming police cars during a pursuit, he refused to answer questions when interrogated.
But when police pulled out his phone, he didn’t have to say a word. They found pictures of an extensive grow operation, as well as glamour shots of him counting thousands of pounds in profits.
Fingerprints both digital and real
On April 10th, as part of Operation Blue Steel, (not related to Zoolander), Barwell was arrested for his cannabis ring. Detective Constable Rory Juss commented,
A drugs expert estimated Barwell could have made upwards of £400,000-a-year from his network of cannabis factories and there was evidence in the form of text messages to suggest he was looking to expand his operation.
We found thousands of pounds worth of cannabis growing equipment in his garage – he was growing cannabis on an industrial scale…
A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing has also been scheduled for later this year when we will look to recover any money or assets Barwell made from his drug empire.
We’re determined there will be no drug money left for him to count when he’s eventually released from prison.
Everything the wrong way
But Barwell wasn’t the only one to get stung by his meagerly managed misdeeds. Two other men ended up in police custody. In February of last year, detectives raided a property in Willenhall, West Midlands.
There, they found 40 mature plants in one bedroom, along with Barwell’s prints on the electric meter and on a nearby cigarette butt. Barwell rigged the meter to get free power, another illegal growing faux pas, sure to get you busted. That started it all.
Four other properties in the city, all in his name, also housed illegal grows. Police arrested Nicholas Jones, 22, when he returned home while police were clearing cannabis out of his bedroom. Kyle Burton, 25, fell into police hands after visiting one of the addresses under surveillance.
It appears that Barwell ran the operation, while Burton grew the crops and Jones trimmed the final product. Barwell also got caught buying hydro equipment for all 5 locations by police.
Lessons to learn from the dumbest dealer
Sure it’s better to live where it’s legal, but if you have to do something shady, do it right. Barwell did everything wrong. He bought equipment in person on a large scale, stole electricity, rammed cop cars, employed idiots, and took photos of everything. His buddies walked in on police raiding their places, admitted to growing, and acted just as obvious.
After getting out of prison, which he will serve over 4 years in, and his accomplices just under 4 years along with him, maybe he should write a book on how not to grow and sell weed. The only thing he didn’t do was take out an ad in the paper.
Is this the dumbest dealer you’ve heard of? Or have you known people who were busted for stupid reasons? What is the worst mistake you have seen? Share your words of warning with us on social media or in the comments below.