Two More Picked Up in Major UK Cocaine Case
A year after four men were arrested for smuggling a half tonne of cocaine into the United Kingdom on a private jet, another man was arrested Wednesday.
The unidentified 34-year-old from Bournemouth was arrested by UK police, who did not explain his connection to the prior arrests. A sixth Spanish national living in Bournemouth has also been charged in the case; police did not identify either suspect.
The case that has already racked up more than 90 years in prison sentences.
The initial arrests occurred when Border Force officers discovered 513 individually-wrapped blocks of cocaine in the suitcases of four men flying to the Farnborough Airport directly from Bogota, Colombia on a private jet in January 2018.
According to a news release last August from the National Crime Agency (NCA):
To hire the private jet, they posed as “businessmen involved in the world of crypto currency and the music industry,” and claimed they were travelling to Bogota to see American popstar Bruno Mars.
“These men deviated from their seemingly normal lives as bricklayers and waiters to play high-flying businessmen,” said the NCA’s Ian Turby, “using luxury cars, hotels and even a private jet to try and pull off a plot they thought would make them millions.”
The trip was organized by an associate at Diamonte jets who had arranged an almost identical trip for three of the men the month before.
Police in Colombia, where five men were arrested in connection to the foiled plot, said the Bogota-based criminals used a range of tactics to avoid detection, including a phony policeman with a fake sniffer dog to supposedly inspect the luggage before it was re-loaded onto the jet.
When border police uncovered the cocaine in their 15 suitcases, all four men claimed they were unaware the drugs were there.
Following a four-week trial in August, a jury found them guilty and the group was sentenced to a total of 92 years in prison.
The half tonne of cocaine was 79 percent pure, according to investigators, and had an estimated street value of US$54 million.
“Although this was not a particularly sophisticated smuggling attempt it clearly had significant financial backing,” Turby said. “The loss of profit that would have been made from this seizure will be a huge hit to the wider criminal networks involved.”