Drug smugglers jailed for 64 years
THREE smugglers were today jailed for a total of 64 years after bringing £55 million of cocaine through Felixstowe port – one of the country's biggest ever drugs hauls.
THREE smugglers were today jailed for a total of 64 years after bringing £55 million of cocaine through Felixstowe port - one of the country's biggest ever drugs hauls.
Customs officers at the container terminal played a major role in uncovering the consignment, tracking it and gathering intelligence and evidence for the case.
John Barber, spokesman for HM Customs in Suffolk, hoped the tough sentences would act as a deterrent and send out a strong message to professional criminal gangs involved in smuggling that their activities would not be tolerated.
Father and son, Rex and Duncan Newport, Mark Reeves and Louis Hillard were convicted at Wolverhampton Crown Court last month of smuggling the 651kg of drugs.
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Today three of them reappeared for sentencing - Hillard was missing and will be sentenced at a later date.
Duncan Newport was sentenced to 26 years in jail, his dad Rex to 20 years, and Reeves to 18 years.
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The case - called Operation Elysian by Customs officers - concerned a haul of cocaine which arrived at Felixstowe from Guayaquil, Ecuador on November 13, 2002, after a three-week journey from South America.
It was hidden inside a container loaded with a cargo of heavy plant, which was loaded at Panama on to the MS Maersk Mathilde.
As a result of a long term Customs surveillance operation, the container was selected for examination by officers at Felixstowe.
They found the large quantity of cocaine concealed in the machinery, welded in special compartments in the bulldozers' blades.
Customs officers then arranged for the delivery of the container, under surveillance, to its shipping address in Langley Mill, Nottinghamshire. It was delivered on November 20 and the contents unloaded.
The following day a low loader vehicle collected the consignment and delivered it to an industrial unit in Bushbury, Wolverhampton, and later that day customs officers raided the unit, catching Reeves and Hillard removing the drugs.
The pair were arrested and Duncan and Rex Newport were arrested later the same day.