Jail For Cocaine Smuggling Gang

3 June 2011, 08:57 | Updated: 3 June 2011, 08:59

A lobster fisherman who planned to smuggle 255kg (560lb) of cocaine into the UK has been jailed for 24 years.

Jamie Green sailed his fishing boat from Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight into the Channel to collect a stash of cocaine that had been dropped from a container ship.

The drugs, worth up to £53 million, were in watertight rucksacks which were tied to a buoy in the same way that lobster pots would be.

Green, 43, of Newport Road, Yarmouth, along with Daniel Payne, Scott Birtwhistle and Croatian Zoran Dresic, retrieved the haul on May 30 last year after it was dropped from MCS Oriane, which was travelling from Brazil.

The men had been tracked by a UK Border Agency ship and were arrested later that day, while police recovered the drugs the following day.

At Kingston Crown Court, in south west London, Green, Dresic, 36, and another man, Jonathan Beere, 42, of Mayfield Road, Ryde, Isle of Wight, were sentenced to 24 years in prison for conspiracy to import cocaine.

Beere had been in telephone contact with the group throughout the drugs run.

Birtwhistle ,20, of Sparshot Road, Selsey, West Sussex, was jailed for 14 years for the same offence, while Payne, 36, of Albert Road, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, was sentenced to 18 years.

Detective Inspector Robert Boggan from the Metropolitan Police said: "This gang thought they could get away with bringing hundreds of kilos of high-purity drugs into the UK to make themselves a hefty profit.

"While they believed they had found an innovative way of disguising their ill-gotten gains, we were one step ahead of them and stopped them before they could cause damage."

Senior Crown prosecutor Ogheneruona Iguyovwe said: "This case demonstrates that organised criminals will use whatever techniques they can to try and evade the nets of law enforcement.

"However, Soca (Serious Organised Crime Agency) and CPS worked closely together to bring a strong prosecution case to show how each man was involved in the conspiracy. After hearing the prosecution's case, the jury was satisfied of each defendant's guilt and convicted them on all charges of conspiracy to import cocaine."