Two men caught trying to smuggle £535,000 of cocaine through Gatwick Airport have been jailed.
The 8.5kg of the Class A drug was discovered hidden in boxes marked rum that had come from Barbados, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.
Their smuggling technique was described as ‘unsophisticated’ by a Border Force expert, however.
Grantley Herbert Thompson, 62, and Jamal Ricardo Walcott, 30, admitted trying to smuggle the cocaine into the UK, the NCA confirmed.
The men were stopped by Border Force officers on September 1 after they had got off a flight from Barbados.
During a search of their baggage officers discovered a white powder, wrapped in green plastic, and hidden inside boxes marked rum.
The agency said the powder was tested and gave a positive reaction to the field test for cocaine.
An ‘unsophisticated’ drug smuggling attempt
Chris Capel, assistant director of Border Force South said: “This was a deliberate, if unsophisticated attempt to smuggle dangerous Class A drugs into the UK and I commend the Border Force officers whose work ensured that Thompson and Walcott are now behind bars.
“Illegal drugs have a significant impact on our society, being the root cause behind countless burglaries, thefts and robberies.
“They are also used as a commodity by organised criminals linked to violence and exploitation of the vulnerable.
“We continue to work with our colleagues from the National Crime Agency (NCA) to do all we can to stamp out this despicable trade and bring those responsible to justice.”
Pair admit trying to smuggle cocaine
The case was referred to the NCA and Thompson and Walcott were charged with importation of a class A drug.
On Thursday, October 11 the pair appeared at Croydon Crown Court where they admitted the smuggling attempt, the NCA said.
Both were sentenced to six years and six months imprisonment immediately.
The Government’s serious violence strategy, which was launched in April, aims to combat the devastating impact drugs have on levels of serious violence.
The Government said it also highlights a strong link between drugs and serious violence and the related harm and exploitation from county lines.
The Government has set out the action it will take to tackle this violent and exploitative criminal activity.
The action of Border Force to stop drugs before they get into the country forms a key part of this work, their spokesman said.
How are drug smugglers caught?
Border Force officers use hi-tech search equipment to combat immigration crime and detect banned and restricted goods that smugglers attempt to bring into the country.
Nationally, they use an array of search techniques including sniffer dogs, carbon dioxide detectors, heartbeat monitors and scanners - as well as visual searches - to find well-hidden stowaways, illegal drugs, firearms and tobacco which would otherwise end up causing harm to local people, businesses and communities.
Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or go to https://www.gov.uk/report-smuggling