7 Years for Drug Trafficker

It's 7 years in prison for a cocaine trafficker who pleaded guilty at Canterbury Crown Court

Louis Bridgen, 47, formally of Ware, Hertfordshire, had previously pleaded guilty at Canterbury Crown Court on Wednesday 26 May 2010, to knowingly being concerned in the importation of cocaine between July 2003 to January 2006 with intent to supply.

Kent Police led the investigation after intercepting a package in March 2005, which contained one kilo of pure cocaine and was destined for an address in Canterbury.

Bridgen was identified through DNA found on the package containing the high-grade cocaine.

The court heard that between July 2003 and January 2006, Bridgen flew to Los Angeles, America, on at least 16 occasions, where he sourced several kilos of cocaine that he then sent back to the UK via an international courier.

During this time two packages were intercepted by police and customs that were found to contain the Class A drug.

In July 2003 two kilos of cocaine were intercepted, followed by a further two kilos in December 2004. In March 2005 Kent Police intercepted one kilo destined for Canterbury. In total the five kilos of pure cocaine had an estimated street value of £420,000.

In January 2006 officers from Kent Police's Serious and Organised Crime Unit executed a search warrant at an address in Hertfordshire where Bridgen was living at the time. He was subsequently arrested and officers seized a quantity of cocaine (182 grams) valued at around £5,000 as well as £12,300 in cash.

Bridgen was released on police bail in January 2006 while evidence was secured from the USA, but he absconded almost immediately and this resulted in an extensive manhunt, including appeals on Crimewatch UK and via Crimestoppers.

In July 2009, the investigation team was contacted by the Royal Thailand Police, who informed them that Bridgen had been arrested for a minor offence of failing to pay a $20 bar bill in Pattaya, Thailand.

It is understood that officers from Royal Thailand Police were alerted that Bridgen had given them a false name, and they began checking the British Crimewatch and Crimestoppers websites for information.

They then identified Bridgen, whose real identity was confirmed through fingerprints.

In March 2010 he was extradited back to the UK where he was remanded in custody.

Detective Inspector Eddie Fox from Kent Police's Serious and Organised Crime Unit, who led the investigation said:

 "Bridgen thought he was being clever by posting the drugs to addresses in the UK but the packages were intercepted and we were able to identify him as being responsible. Following his initial arrest he absconded and fled to Thailand where he thought he was beyond the reach of British Justice, but one minor incident in Thailand resulted his arrest and many uncomfortable months in a local prison. The Thai authorities worked together with Kent Police to secure his extradition back to the UK.

”This enquiry spanned three continents and this sentencing is a very satisfying conclusion for us. The message to anyone considering fleeing justice is that if you do go you will spend all the time looking over your shoulder in the knowledge that we will hunt you down wherever you are."