Rapper Nines has been sentenced to 28 months in prison after importing 28 kg of cannabis into the UK from Spain and Poland.
The musician, whose real name is Courtney Freckleton, used the encrypted messaging platform. EncroChat contact an unknown exporter referred to as “MicroBird” to arrange large-scale shipments of the drug.
Boilers were used to smuggle some of the cannabis from Poland, Harrow Crown Court was told.
Nine, who topped the UK album chart last year with his third studio release Crabs In A Bucket, appeared in court in northwest London with 35-year-old Jason Thompson, where they both admitted to conspiring to import cannabis to the United Kingdom from Poland and Spain.
They also pleaded guilty to conspiring to transfer criminal cash between March 10 and July 3 of last year.
The couple successfully imported some cannabis, but a second attempt failed, the court was told.
Prosecutor Genevieve Reed said the money laundering charge was related to a debt of £ 98,000, the value of cannabis, and the use of Bitcoin to buy it.
The two men were arrested in June as part of police raids in London and Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, following the infiltration of EncroChat last year, which was used by organized crime networks around the world.
The network was based in France before it was shut down after being hacked by researchers.
When Judge Rosa Dean sentenced Nines, from the Barbican, central London, and Thompson, from Barnet, north London, to 28 months in jail, she said: “What a waste of all that talent, sitting in Wormwood Scrubs “.
Nines was known as “Big Boss” by his co-conspirators and referred to cannabis as “Cali” in his messages, the court heard.
The 31-year-old musician was previously jailed for 18 months for possessing cannabis with the intent to supply.
The star, originally from Harlesden, northwest London, won the MOBO award for best hip-hop act last year.
Their third album, which beat Metallica to number one when it was released, was also named album of the year despite competition from Stormzy, J Hus, Lianne La Havas and Mahalia.
The rapper found fame with his 2017 debut album One Foot Out, which reached number four on the charts.
His songs have amassed millions of listeners on streaming platforms and he has collaborated with the likes of Dave, Ray BLK, and SL.