A drugs kingpin and haulage boss who lived like 'a ghost' to evade justice has been jailed for 32 years over his part in smuggling £68million of cocaine and cannabis into Britain.
James Mulvey tried to throw off police by not staying in one place for too long and checking into hotels for seven years. He paid in cash - sometimes through third parties.
The 42-year-old, originally from Solihull in the West Midlands, routinely used so-called 'burner' mobile phones, which he quickly disposed of, making tracking his movements difficult.
Mulvey was arrested at gunpoint by Lithuanian special forces in 2017 after being tracked down
Mulvey was tracked to Lithuania during a 'meticulous' probe by the National Crime Agency
But after he was tracked down and arrested in Lithuania, he was yesterday found guilty of two counts of conspiring to bring cocaine into England, and two counts of conspiring to smuggle cannabis into the country, between 2006 and 2007.
He was jailed for 32 years, of which he will serve half before he is eligible for release.
The court had heard he earned up to £75,000 in cash from drugs running every week and built a £1.5 million Spanish villa near Marbella with indoor and outdoor pools and a cinema.
James Mulvey, 42, tried to throw off police by never staying in one place too long
He also drove high-end cars such as Land Rovers and Mercedes, bought Rolex watches and moved between five-star hotels.
The father-of-five moved to Spain when the police started closing in on the sophisticated smuggling operation he helped to run.
Living abroad, he enjoyed a luxury lifestyle, having a £1.5million villa built near Marbella and employing a bespoke luxury package holidays firm to make 22 trips.
Back home, most of his children were put through private school in Worcestershire and Somerset.
But Mulvey was eventually arrested at gunpoint by Lithuanian special forces in 2017, after being tracked there during a 'meticulous' investigation by the NCA and secretly recorded.
He was overheard telling a girlfriend: 'Listen, no one can control me baby, even me dad and mum will tell ya I'm f***ing nuts.'
The crime lord also spoke how he feared assassination, adding: 'The life I lead, you never know what can happen. I do what I do, people try to kill me.'
Mulvey was convicted over his part in running £68million of cocaine and cannabis into Britain
A shipment of 20kg of cocaine, 364kg of cannabis and 10kg of cutting agent was seized
His detention under a European arrest warrant was the conclusion to a criminal inquiry into a smuggling ring dating back to 2007, which had already seen his two associates prosecuted and jailed.
What James Mulvey said about his life as a drugs trafficker
James Mulvey was recorded talking about his life as a crime lord and drugs trafficker. Here is what he said:
'He's no threat to me and I'm no threat to him. So that's what them texts are for. Do you understand? That's why he's texting me to see what my response is. That says ****ing well. If he thinks it's a problem or I think of he then (sic)... People getting put in the ***ing ground over this. You need to listen to what I saw. I want to be with you. I love you. But this is what my life was. I'm trying to get away from this. I'm too involved in it. Do you not understand how these people work? Do you not understand if they can't get to me they go to the people you love and kill the people you love.'
'£270,000 went missing and the people will want it back. So we've got it back and taken his ***ing company off him. That's running proper. 20 artic as well. Do you know what I mean? So that's why it's the bigger picture son.'
Mulvey and the men were running a large-scale drugs operation to bring contraband from Belgium across to England, before moving it on to Ireland.
Drugs were stuffed inside hollow industrial metal rollers, on the backs of lorries.
The illicit cargo passed through a haulage yard in the sleepy village of Inkberrow, Worcestershire - better known as an inspiration for BBC Radio Four's The Archers' fictional setting of Ambridge.
The scheme was undone by an eagle-eyed Belgian warehouse worker, who spotted how the same rollers were returning to the depot.
A shipment of 20kg of cocaine, 364kg of cannabis and 10kg of cutting agent was seized.
It is estimated that over 15 trips in total, up to £68million in drugs were smuggled through the route.
British law enforcement was informed once the England connection was uncovered, and in 2007 the rollers were seized by Irish police on an industrial estate in Dublin.
Several people were arrested in connection with the drug runs, including lorry driver Geoffrey Edwards and transport manager Barry Phipps.
Following the verdicts after a ten-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said Mulvey's reputation as a criminal 'untouchable' had been shattered.
Drugs were stuffed inside hollow industrial metal rollers (pictured), on the backs of lorries
Mulvey is seen under surveillance. Several people were arrested in connection with the drugs
Phipps, of Sutton Coldfield, was jailed for 25 years and Edwards, of Birmingham, for 20 years for conspiring to supply drugs, after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court in 2009.
But Mulvey moved to Spain just days before Edwards and Phipps were arrested, in August 2007.
There was not sufficient evidence to charge Mulvey at the time, but the investigation work went on.
It was not until 2012 with Mulvey returning to the UK when his father fell ill, that British officers were able to more closely investigate.
The NCA mounted a surveillance operation, gathering covert audio and video recordings
The operation to snare Mulvey saw evidence gathered from nine different countries
The NCA mounted a sophisticated surveillance operation, gathering covert audio and video recordings, to snare Mulvey.
In 2012 when Mulvey returned to the UK when his father fell ill, British officers were able to more closely investigate him
Officers also employed forensic accounting, though one NCA financial investigator described Mulvey as 'a ghost' operating without bank accounts or much of a paper trail.
The operation saw evidence gathered from nine different countries, while two of his former girlfriends testified against him.
Following conviction, Andy Quinn, NCA regional head of investigations, said: 'Mr Mulvey would classify himself as an iconic, untouchable criminal.
'The NCA and its partners have today proven that isn't the case.'
He added: 'He obviously fled overseas following the conviction of his criminal associates and again probably thought that out-of-sight, out-of-mind for five years, that the NCA would give up. We never give up on individuals like Mr Mulvey. We have a long memory.'
How James Mulvey was eventually snared by criminal investigators
2007: Criminal inquiry into drug smuggling ring begins, as metal rollers used for drugs are seized by Irish police on an industrial estate in Dublin.
August 2007: Several people are arrested just days after James Mulvey moves to Spain
2009: Lorry driver Geoffrey Edwards is jailed for 20 years and transport manager Barry Phipps for 25 years at Birmingham Crown Court for conspiring to supply drugs
2012: Mulvey returns to Britain when his father falls ill, giving British officers a chance to investigate him more closely and begin surveillance
January 2017: Mulvey is arrested at gunpoint by Lithuanian special forces in 2017 after being tracked there during a National Crime Agency probe
Yesterday : Mulvey is jailed for 32 years after being found guilty of two counts of conspiring to bring cocaine into England, and two counts of conspiring to smuggle cannabis into the country, between 2006 and 2007.