Four men have today been found guilty of involvement in a £4.5 million cocaine smuggling operation that employed corrupt baggage handlers at Heathrow airport.
Mark Oliver, 30, Michael Hopkins, 51, Malcolm Bax, 31, and Andrew Robinson, 46, were part of of a gang of seven criminals, all of whom have been found guilty at Croydon Crown Court of being knowingly concerned in the importation of cocaine.
The group used contacts with Heathrow baggage handlers in a bid to illegally bring 12kg of the Class A drug into the UK from Brazil.
The cocaine was placed inside a large orange suitcase and carried as baggage on a flight in September last year.
Police, who had been conducting a ‘protracted’ surveillance operation on the smugglers, then arrested them in a dramatic swoop – during which one gang member shunted an officer’s car in order to escape the scene.
The gang’s three other members, Anthony Rouse, 53, Charles Oliver, 29, and Anthony Cenci, 24, were all previously convicted after pleading guilty.
The convictions are the culmination of an ‘intelligence led, multi agency operation,’ which saw police cooperating with customs officials, the UK Border Agency and the Serious Organised Crime Agency.
Detective Inspector Robert Boggon of the Metropolitan Police Middle Market Drugs Partnership, said: “More than £4 million worth of cocaine, which was no doubt bound for London’s streets and beyond, has been removed from circulation.”
“This result illustrates the fantastic liaison and cooperation between a number of agencies, to combat the importation of controlled drugs.”