Sleigh Ride The Ronettes
9 February 2016, 13:02
Two men from Essex have been jailed for a total of 47 years for their part in a plot to smuggle £33.5 million of cocaine into the UK.
43 year-old Mark Dowling, from Surman Crescent in Brentwood, and 38 year-old Jamie Williams, from Bird Lane in Upminster, were part of a gang who transported the Class A drug from Holland.
The drugs were flown to Selby in north Yorkshire from Germany in a private plane and then driven down to Essex.
It is thought the group undertook eight such trips in the Autumn of 2014.
Border Force staff found bags and suitcases loaded with 34 kilos of cocaine in the boot of a car and in the tail wing of a plane at Breighton Aerodrome in November 2014.
The pilot, 52 year-old Andrew Wright, from Barlow in North Yorkshire, who had been nicknamed 'Biggles' was arrested at the scene.
During an investigation by the National Crime Agency, it was discovered Wright had been helped by Williams. He was subsequently arrested and, during a search of his house, officers discovered more drugs, cash, a gun and ammunition.
Dowling was the last to be identified and arrested by NCA investigators. He was detained in Hutton making a handover of 19 kilos of cannabis to drug dealer 57 year-old David Rowe, from Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire, in June 2015.
At Dowling's home officers found a further 12.5 kilos of cocaine worth an estimated £1.8 million, 23.5 kilos of cannabis worth £155,000, and a drugs ledger showing that he had been responsible for arranging cocaine shipments totalling more than a quarter of a tonne from the Netherlands, worth a potential £37 million once cut and adulterated to street-level purity, selling them on to distributors in the UK.
All three pleaded guilty to conspiring to import class A drugs. Dowling also admitted money laundering charges and supplying class A drugs, while Williams admitted supplying class A drugs and possessing a firearm.
At the Old Bailey today (Tuesday 9 February) a judge sentenced Dowling to 24 years in prison, Wright to 19 years and Williams to 23 years.
Rowe was given an 18 month sentence for possessing cannabis with intent to supply.
Mick Maloney, head of the NCA's north east border investigation team, said:
"This crime group ran an organised operation, utilising the piloting skills of Andrew Wright to import large amounts of cocaine.
"Wright's previous trips to and from Germany point to him being a professional courier, trusted by his fellow criminals with transporting their drugs.
"We were able to prove that Dowling was head of the organised crime group, responsible for a series of shipments. Williams worked alongside him and would have played a key role in getting these drugs onto the streets.
"With valuable help from our colleagues in the Metropolitan Police, North Yorkshire Police, Border Force and the authorities in Germany we have dismantled a significant criminal enterprise."