Duo face jail following cocaine swoop

TWO members of an international drug smuggling ring today face hefty jail terms after a police swoop at Tesco, Copdock, netted 50 kilos of cocaine.Working with the Dutch authorities, officers from Metropolitan police pounced to seize the £5million haul in the superstore's car park after it came in through Felixstowe.

TWO members of an international drug smuggling ring today face hefty jail terms after a police swoop at Tesco, Copdock, netted 50 kilos of cocaine.

Working with the Dutch authorities, officers from Metropolitan police pounced to seize the £5million haul in the superstore's car park after it came in through Felixstowe.

James Lee was found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine at Inner London Crown Court.

Neil Cribben, 29, had confessed to his part in the plot, pleading guilty to the same charge, prior to trial. Both men will be sentenced on Monday.


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Cribben's brother, Daniel, 31, of Gillingham, Kent was found not guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine.

The court heard that during late 2005 police received intelligence about a highly-organised criminal gang responsible for the large-scale importation and distribution of cocaine from Holland.

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During tapped phone calls, detectives overheard Lee, 40, of no fixed abode, arrange for drugs to be imported through Felixstowe.

On January 25 last year police watched as Lee visited a number of hotels in central London with his girlfriend before booking into the Marriott Hotel in Bexley Heath.

On January 26, the Neil Cribben, of Kemsing, Kent, drove to Suffolk with his brother in a white Berlingo van. He got behind the wheel even though he had been given a probation order by Sevenoaks magistrates just two days earlier for driving while disqualified.

After picking up the drugs they parked up at a Tesco Copdock and as Neil Cribben returned to the vehicle having gone inside, detectives from the Met pounced.

The back of the van contained 49 one kilo packages of cocaine, with the fiftieth being found under the front passenger seat.

Lee was arrested at the Bexley Heath hotel.

As well as the drugs, officers recovered evidence from them of plans to distribute the drugs to contacts.

Acting detective chief inspector Grant Johnson, from the Met's projects team, said: “This case should send out a clear message to those involved, or thinking of becoming involved, in this type of crime that the Met has active and robust intelligence picture in this field, which will lead to conviction and extensive sentences.”

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