Police watched as drug dealers transported 200 kilos of cannabis from a white van to a London taxi just off the M25.
The driver of the Peugeot van – Gary Brennan, from Dartford – had driven to Vicarage Close, Brentwood to meet Paul Pierson, from Kings Langley, who was in his father’s black cab.
Prosecutor Sally Mealing-McLeod told St Albans Crown Court on Thursday that the police followed the taxi along the motorway back into Hertfordshire.
When Paul Pierson realised they were to be stopped, between junctions 21A and 20, he was seen to make a phone call and then throw his mobile out of the window.
Officers set up a rolling road block and recovered the phone from lane three. The records were sent off for analysis and it showed he had made a call to Spain.
The person who received that call had telephoned Pierson’s wife in Kings Langley and told her to get rid of a “sample” of the consignment.
Unknown to Millissa Pierson the police were watching the couple’s million pound house in Kings Langley, which the prosecutor described as “exclusive and in a sought-after location.”
They saw Millissa Pierson exit the house at speed in her VW Tiguan. She drove along Kings Langley’s High Street and was stopped. A bar of cannabis weighing 229 grams was recovered.
There were eight boxes of cannabis in the taxi, each containing 100 nine ounce bars. In deals of an eighth of an ounce the cannabis had a street value of between £565,680 and £848,520. Its wholesale value was £120,240, said the prosecutor.
Brennan was also stopped after driving away. He denied being involved in the drug exchange, but was linked by telephone evidence to a mobile phone in Spain.
Mr Pierson, 32; Mrs Pierson, 33, both of Hillcrest, Lady Meadow, Kings Langley; and Gary Brennan, 48, of Hyde Grove, Dartford, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis.
The Piersons were of previous good character. Brennan was on licence from a four-year sentence passed on March 20, 2009, for possessing 200 kilos of amphetamine. He had been released on May 19, 2010.
They will all be subject to confiscation hearings at a later date in which the prosecution will ask for assets gained from drugs to be seized.
Anthony Wyatt, defending Mr Pierson, said the arrest had been a “wake up call”. He said he had a successful building business and had tried to run a property firm, but had become addicted to cocaine. Since being remanded in custody he said he was now clean of drugs and wanted to get his family back together.
For Brennan, James Martin said: “He was put under pressure to do this job by those involved in the previous case because they believed he had a lighter sentence. He agreed to drive the drugs from A to B and was told his slate would be wiped clean.” He said he is now determined never to get involved in anything like it again.
Chris Georgiou, for Mrs Pierson, said she had been told her husband had been arrested and had been asked to get rid of the drug. He said she had prematurely given birth to the couple’s son.
Jailing both men for three-and-a-half years, Judge John Plumstead said: “Cannabis saps the willpower and morale of people who take it.”
He told Mr Pierson: “The confiscation hearing means that this may be the last you have seen of your million pound house.”
He gave Mrs Pierson a three-year Community Order with a condition that she carries out 200 hours of unpaid work.
The judge commended the police for the “good job” they did.