Your twenties are meant to be trying, but special. They're the decade that inspires your uncle to mutter "youth is wasted on the young" while you regale the family with tales of under-30s today preparing to be financially worse off than their parents, paying off university debts for years. They're the time when you're "just, like, figuring it out" while being reminded that you're an entitled brat if you'd quite enjoy things like job security or the opportunity to still be in the European Union.
Imagine, then, being in this height of your life and deciding, 'Yes, I think now is the perfect time to start hiding illegal drugs inside tyres.' Imagine no more. Late on Friday, 22-year-old John Myles from Manchester was one of nine men sentenced to a collective 73 years in prison for doing just that: attempting to conceal cocaine, amphetamine and mephedrone inside tyres at a Liverpool tyre garage, as well as storing more drugs in a fridge-freezer in a flat. In total, the street value of the drugs found in both locations was estimated at about £2 million.
An investigation by "Titan" – the collaborative organised crime unit that straddles six police forces in the north-west of England – brought the whole operation down in October. The gang were originally suspected of moving drugs around the west Yorkshire area in July 2015. Police reportedly tailed two of the men in the ring to a cafe on the 2nd of October, as they exchanged a bag picked up earlier from a flat in Garston. Once a man named as Colin Rafferty drove that bag to the tyre garage in Huyton, both Merseyside Police and Titan reportedly raided the tyre business – and found Rafferty and another man trying to shove packages of drugs between a wheel rim and tyre.
That's right. In a year when we've had drugs gangs try to move product in carpets and flower-boxes, the tyre just seemed like the next logical step. There are seemingly no limits to the creativity of people hoping to move drugs from one place to the next, and honestly it feels worth celebrating. Just this week we've heard about the man who tried and failed to hide heroin up his bum, stashed inside Kinder Eggs. And before that, there was a story from Southampton about a homeless man who allegedly squeezed coke under his foreskin before he was found by police.
People may laugh at those stories, but they all centred around smaller amounts of narcotics than this Liverpool crew. Rather than messing about with a few grams of coke here, or a few thousand pounds worth of heroin there, Myles and co were keeping more than 150kg of drugs inside that flat.
There it is.
"This is a massive seizure of what is estimated to be more than 160kg kilos of what we believe are Class A and B drugs," said Titan detective superintendent Jason Hudson, back in October. He'd initially alluded to the drugs having a street value of £25 million, since updated by the police. "This clearly represents a massive seizure of dangerous drugs that would undoubtedly have been supplied to communities across the North West and beyond".
On top of what was picked up from the fridge in a Liverpool flat, the police say they found 20,000 ecstasy pills, 4kg of amphetamine and 1kg of coke at the tyre garage business. By the sounds of things, a variety of blunders led to the collapse of the plan. The grey cab they'd used to move the drugs around ended up drawing more attention than diverting it. An initial police stop of courier Dean Davies led to police hauling 1kg of "high-purity" cocaine from his car last summer. By August, when increasing police attention threatened to derail the whole network, the group tried to get more cocaine out of Liverpool.
Things didn't go well. A second courier, Brian Laughlin, was stopped and arrested in August. Less than an hour later, according to police, our millennial John Myles tried to get another packet of coke out of Liverpool. He was driving with a "female associate" along the M62 when police followed him, arresting both Myles and his passenger in Cheshire – not before Myles tried to do one and make a run for it, getting caught "hiding in undergrowth nearby."
And now, he's become the youngest player in the game to go down, walking away from court on Friday with a three-year and four-month sentence. At least he'll still have more time in his twenties to be tutted at when he's out.
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