Harwich: Three Jailed After Drug Seizure

4 March 2013, 14:35 | Updated: 4 March 2013, 14:39

Three lorry drivers have been jailed for trying to smuggle drugs into Harwich.

Three lorry drivers have been jailed for a total of 63 years for trying to smuggle more than half a tonne of Class A drugs through the Port of Harwich.

55 year-old Alfons van Puyenbroeck from Belgium was sentenced to 23 and a half years while Dutchmen Marcus Luijten and Patrick Lourenz were got 22 and 18 years respectively.

All three men were found guilty of six counts to import controlled drugs.

It comes after 47 year-old Luijten was stopped by Border Force officers in Harwich in March 30, 2012 and nearly 80 kgs of heroin and cocaine were found in his lorry. Further inquiries by the Serious Organised Crime Association (SOCA) linked him to van Puyenbroeck, who had been caught in November 2011 with nearly 400kgs of cocaine, heroin, amphetamine and cannabis.

The third man, 48 year-old Lourenz, was then caught in December 2011 with 65kgs of cocaine and heroin in his shipment.

Paul Jenkins, SOCA Regional Head of Investigations, said: "The members of this criminal enterprise sought to inflict huge quantities of harmful drugs on the UK public through exploiting the international travel required by their employment.

"As well as potentially generating huge profits for criminals, this type of activity undermines legitimate business and harms both drug users and their communities.

"This investigation has showcased the cohesion of UK law enforcement bodies in tackling the illegal drugs trade. SOCA and its partners continue our work to identify, disrupt and imprison those who facilitate it."

Charlotte Mann from Border Force said: "These were sophisticated attempts to smuggle industrial quantities of illegal drugs into the UK. The criminals used coverloads of innocent goods - waffles, medical equipment and even Christmas decorations - in an attempt to evade detection, but our officers are trained to expect the unexpected.

"This case sends a clear message to those involved in drug smuggling - we will catch you and we will ensure you feel the full force of the law."