In a real-life case that mirrors the hit TV show “Breaking Bad,” a couple in England has been sentenced to jail time for a drug operation worth over $5 million.
Darren and Debra Wright of Herne Bay, Kent, have been sentenced to a combined eight years in prison after running multiple successful marijuana factories in their home country. The couple turned to drugs following a deep depression brought on by the loss of their two daughters within the course of three years.
In 2004, after their 4-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a rare cancer, the couple turned became depressed and slowly started to turn to drugs. They also found themselves in a bad financial situation because they had to remortgage their home and collect donations to help send their daughter to Texas for experimental treatment. The treatment was not successful, and the couple was struck with grief.
Then, three years later, their 9-year-old daughter went in for a routine operation, developed a staphylococcus bacterial infection while at the hospital, and died suddenly. Following the death of their second daughter, the couple plunged deeper into depression and drugs, and not long after began to grow and produce marijuana.
They reportedly raked in over $5 million from the drug operation, and hired Vietnamese illegal immigrants to help run the job.
Once the couple believed that authorities were catching onto them, they fled to Spain, but eventually were tracked down and extradited. Debra, 48, has now been charged with three years in jail, and Darren, 48, has been charged with five years.
In the courtroom, the judge expressed sympathy towards the couple’s losses, but made clear that it did not excuse them from what they did.
“After the tragedy of your daughters’ deaths, you went off the rails and became a cannabis user,” said Judge Carroll to Darren Wright, “but I cannot accept it is the main reason for your involvement. It may have affected your judgment and made you more vulnerable, but you were an extremely active and involved conspirator.”
The couple’s real life drama is being compared to the fictional television drama Breaking Bad, in which a schoolteacher diagnosed with terminal cancer begins an elaborate meth operation to pay for his medical bills. The Wrights aren’t TV characters, however, and they will serve real jail time for their drug charges.