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Chart-topping rapper Nines has been jailed for 28 months for importing 28kg of cannabis into the UK from Spain and Poland.
The musician, real name Courtney Freckleton, 31, was known as “Big Boss” by his fellow conspirators in the large-scale cannabis importing operation.
The father of two used the encrypted messaging service Encrochat to message an unknown exporter who used the handle “MicroBird” to arrange shipments of cannabis, which they referred to as “Cali”.
Some of the cannabis was imported inside boilers brought into the UK from Poland, the court heard.
Nines, who last year topped the UK album chart with his third studio release Crabs In A Bucket, appeared at Harrow Crown Court in north-west London on Friday alongside Jason Thompson, 35.
Nines, of Barbican, central London, and Thompson, of Barnet, north London, admitted conspiracy to import the class B drug cannabis into the UK from Poland and Spain and conspiracy to transfer criminal cash between March 10 and July 3 last year.
Judge Rosa Dean sentenced each to 28 months in prison, saying: “What a waste of all of that talent, to be sat in Wormwood Scrubs.”
The plot involved one successful importation and a second attempted one, with a total amount of 28kg, the court heard.
Prosecutor Genevieve Reed said the money laundering charge related to a £98,000 debt, the value of the drugs, and the use of Bitcoin to buy the cannabis.
The men were arrested in June in police raids across London and Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, in an operation following on from the infiltration of Encrochat.
The network, used by thousands of criminals internationally, was brought down by law enforcement last year after being hacked by French investigators.
Nines has previously been imprisoned for 18 months for possession of cannabis with intent to supply.
Nines, originally from Harlesden, north-west London, was named best hip-hop act at the Mobo Awards last year.
His chart-topping third album, which beat heritage metal band Metallica to number one on its release, secured album of the year, seeing off competition from Stormzy, J Hus, Lianne La Havas and Mahalia.