Gang rolled up cannabis inside rolls of carpet to smuggle it into the UK
They were caught after a shipment from Holland was intercepted by police
Four pleaded guilty to the plot and another was convicted after a trial
They have now been jailed for sentences ranging from three to ten years
The men carried out a number of shipments from Holland to the UK, bringing in £20million worth of skunk cannabis
Drugs were found concealed in industrial pipes disguised with carpet rolls
A cannabis smuggling gang who shipped $29million (£20million) worth of cannabis into Britain in rolled up carpets have been jailed for more than 30 years.
Two-and-a-half tonnes of the Class B drug were imported in multiple shipments from Holland under a fake company called Mogafish.
A police investigation began last September after five rolls of carpet stuffed with drugs were shipped from Zeebrugge in Holland to Britain.
Martin Beckett (left) and Lee Jones (right) were seen with the shipment by police investigating the gang When seized by police at a wholesalers, called KB Carpets in Leytonstone, east London, detectives found drugs weighing 1.8 tonnes and with a street value of around $14.5million (£10million).
Martin Beckett, 42, and Lee Jones, 48, tried to flee the warehouse in a white van, but they were watched by plain clothes officers.
A subsequent search of Jones’s house in Fyfield, Essex, found paperwork showing he had made five previous trips to Holland.
Beckett was arrested two days later and charged with conspiracy to fraudulently evade the prohibition on the importation of goods and conspiracy to supply a controlled drug of Class B. Beckett, of Theydon Bois, Essex, admitted conspiracy to supply the skunk cannabis, but disputed his involvement in the drug’s importation. But after a three week trial and 12 hours deliberations he was found guilty at Wood Green Crown Court.
The pair, along with Stuart Openshaw (left), Marc Howell (centre) and Jon Euesden (right) have now been jailed
Wearing a scruffy black fleece he was emotionless as the unanimous verdict was given by the foreman of the jury.
Michael Shaw QC, prosecuting, said: ‘The last of the numerous shipments was intercepted on September 16 2015, which was itself worth several million pounds.
‘It’s also abundantly clear there have been at least five earlier identical importation using the same modus operandi.
‘Having got the drugs into the country, there was a second parallel conspiracy, again centred around these defendants to then supply the drugs all over the UK to a number of identifiable large scale customers for onwards distribution to various parts of the UK.
‘This was all being run from a container based at a rented farm in North Weald in west Essex.
‘This was in short a professional, well-run and sophisticated conspiracy to bring in over 2.5 tonnes of drugs with a street value of approximately $29million (£20million).’
Jones, 48, of Ongar, Essex, as well as Stuart Openshaw, 28, of Andover, Hampshire, Jonathon Euesden, 44, of Essex, and Marc Howell, 45, of Brent, north London, all pleaded guilty to being part of the conspiracy, at an earlier hearing.
Beckett, Jones and Euesden were said to be part of the importing side of the organisation, while the others were part of the distribution of the drugs around the country.
Police said the men ran a sophisticated network across the United Kingdom to bring in and sell the drugs
Defence barrister Tyrone Belger QC denied Beckett was a key player.
He said: ‘He was working as a gardener until only months before his arrest in September.
‘You cannot simply walk into a sophisticated drugs conspiracy and move up the ranks within a matter of days.’
Beckett was given a nine-year, 10-month sentence, Jones nine years and three months, Euesden nine years, three months and Openshaw was handed two years, nine months inside.
Det Sgt Tom Mallinson, of Waltham Forest CID, said: ‘I am delighted with the convictions in this case.
‘It sends out a clear message to those who think importing and supplying Class A and B drugs is a way to earn a living.
‘This gang created a complex conspiracy to conceal their criminal activity and the impact on the people of London and the Home Counties was severe.
‘The investigation identified a sophisticated network across the United Kingdom and my team worked across Europe with our partners to secure this conviction.’
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