‘El Chapo of the Cotswolds’ accused of £5m drug racket tells court ‘bring it on’
A British dad nicknamed the "El Chapo of the Cotswolds" is awaiting extradition to the US on drug charges.
Matthew Grimm, a seemingly ordinary middle-aged father, could face up to 120 years in prison if found guilty of running a £5million drug racket. Grimm, known locally as an avid member of a cycling club, was arrested last November after the US issued a warrant. He's accused of masterminding a synthetic drugs racket that netted over £5million, shipping substances from the Netherlands to US customers via an online portal called Smokey's Chem Site.
Grimm's alleged earnings were so high that he became the first person targeted by the US under Executive Order 14059, introduced two years ago by President Joe Biden to combat fentanyl and other synthetic drugs, but when questioned by The Mirror, he said: "Let them bring it on. I’m 49 now, so how could I serve that long? These are just allegations, so I don't want to say anything."
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The US Treasury said British and Dutch police helped track Grimm and two Dutch nationals in a separate case involving the sale of illegal drugs bought online and on dark net marketplaces.
He is facing five counts of trafficking and one of money laundering, each carrying a sentence of up to 20 years. In court documents, Grimm's lawyer stated his client denies any wrongdoing and is concerned that extradition would distance him from his two children, aged nine and twelve, who live with his ex-partner.
However, district judge Nina Tempia dismissed the pleas and sent the case to Home Secretary Suella Braverman for approval typically a formality in extradition procedures. The judge wrote: "[Grimm] faces extremely serious charges in the US for drug importation… I have to bear [in] mind the strong public interest that the UK upholds its international treaty obligations and that . . . the UK should not be seen as a safe haven."
Grimm's co-accused, Carrie-Ann Tooley, a 53 year old US national, faces two charges of importing drugs and one of conspiracy to commit money laundering. She is due to face trial in Florida in December. A final decision on Grimm's extradition is due in December.
Prosecutors in the US – where former Mexican drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman is serving life in jail – last year froze Grimm's bank account, which they said received £5.2m in Bitcoin payments from customers.
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