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Dutchman jailed for drug smuggling

PUBLISHED: 21:17 26 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:54 03 March 2010

NEARLY 100 kilos of cannabis was smuggled into Ipswich a court heard - leading to a long prison sentence for a Dutch lorry driver.

A total of 98.1 kilograms of cannabis resin was seized by customs officials in May.

NEARLY 100 kilos of cannabis was smuggled into Ipswich a court heard – leading to a long prison sentence for a Dutch lorry driver.

A total of 98.1 kilograms of cannabis resin was seized by customs officials in May. The discovery was made while searching a lorry which arrived on a roll on roll off ferry at the Port of Ipswich.

Lorry driver Pieter Beukema, 47, of Matilda Wibautstraat, Hoorn, Holland, pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court to importing illegal drugs.

Beukema originally told customs officers that he had not checked what had been loaded onto the hired lorry but believed he was carrying bicycle parts.

When customs told Beukema to open the back of the lorry some bike parts were found along with boxes containing cannabis resin with a street value of around £300,000.

John Akast mitigating said his client had pleaded guilty to the charge before incriminating evidence was put before him.

Beukema's fingerprints were found on the outside and inside of the boxes of cannabis. It was also revealed that Beukema had a previous record for importing 12 kilograms of cocaine into Holland.

Tachograph and ferry records gave officers further information about Beukema's previous and similar visits to Ipswich.

Judge Nicholas Beddard said: "The importation of large quantities of controlled drugs has always been considered a serious offence in this country and carry substantial prison sentences."

He sent Beukema to jail for four and a half years and ordered the confiscation of £1600 cash found on Beukema on the time of his arrest along with the haul of cannabis.

Judge Beddard heard from Mr Akast that the sentence should be lenient, as cannabis is likely to be declassified.

Judge Beddard said Beukema should have therefore waited for the law to change before importing the drugs.

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