Bo’ness mum facing jail in US over crystal meth freed

Kerry Ann Shanks has been released from prison. Picture: Lorenzo Dalberto
Kerry Ann Shanks has been released from prison. Picture: Lorenzo Dalberto
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A WEST Lothian mum who faced a 20-year prison sentence in the US for drug crimes has been released from prison.

Kerry Ann Shanks was convicted of helping her husband Brian Howes sell a chemical used to make the Class A drug crystal meth.

But prosecutors in Arizona have dropped 81 other charges, allowing Shanks to be released because of the seven months she spent in Cornton Vale jail on remand in 2007.

Shanks, a mother of six, is now awaiting deportation in the US following the ruling and is expected back in the UK within days.

The Bo’ness couple had supplied red phosphorus – used to manufacture the highly addictive drug crystal meth – over the internet from their home to illegal drugs laboratories in the US.

They were arrested six years ago following an international operation involving police and other law enforcement agencies investigating the making of the drug.

Police said the pair created a “one- stop shop” for the chemicals.

They claimed she acted as secretary for the three firms set up by Howes to sell chemicals, including red phosphorus and iodine.

None of the companies had the correct licences needed for exportation to the US.

Initially they claimed the chemicals they sold were to make fireworks. After fighting extradition and denying the claims for years, both have now admitted their criminal activity.

A US conviction for unlawful importation and distribution of regulated chemicals such as red phosphorus carries a maximum penalty of 20 years.

Shanks’ lawyer has claimed she had played only a minor role in the crime.

Joanne Landfair said: “The prosecution felt her role was so much less. That’s the sense that I get.

Shanks was only extradited to America after a six-year legal battle to stay in the UK.

She was held at Central Arizona Detention Centre prior to appearing at the District Court of Arizona.

Prosecutors agreed with her attorney that they could only prove she had been involved with one drug shipment of 100g of red phosphorus.

But her levels of offence warranted a much smaller sentence of no more than six months.

Since she had spent seen months in jail in the UK, the judge decided she had served her time and ordered for her to be deported.

It is not known if she will return to Bo’ness after her lawyer said her home was repossessed. All of her children are now in foster care.