London, Dec 10 (Ajit Weekly News) A 34-year-old Indian-origin man and three others, who smuggled drugs from the Netherlands to the UK and Ireland, have been sentenced to a total of more than 53 years in prison after a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.
Joshpal Singh Kothiria, who supplied cocaine and cannabis to customers in the UK and Ireland, was sentenced to three years in jail at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Friday.
Kothiria was part of the organised crime group headed by Anthony Terry, 49, who orchestrated an importation of 1.6 million pounds of cocaine from the Netherlands to England, and then across by ferry to Northern Ireland.
“These criminals were determined to smuggle drugs into the UK and onwards to the Republic of Ireland. They did not care about the geography of their crimes when in pursuit of pure profit,” NCA Branch Commander Mick Pope said.
“They used the road and ferry networks to take their drugs across the Irish Sea, hoping to avoid detection by taking advantage of the common travel area and border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
NCA officers seized the drugs, which had been hidden in fuel tanks transported within a van, when it arrived at Belfast port in February 2021.
At the same time Terry was under surveillance in Wolverhampton, and he was arrested the same day.
He was working with Michael Collis, 63, who acted as his driver picking up the drugs in the Netherlands.
Along with Kothiria, Mohammed Omar Khan, 39, supplied drugs to customers in the UK or export them to Ireland, and the group used encrypted messaging service Encrochat to communicate.
Terry instructed Collis to travel to the Netherlands on April 6, 2020 and he collected 17.5 kilos of cocaine.
From there, the drugs were divided up and, while Khan made deliveries to Luton and Slough, Collis travelled to Ireland to hand over the remaining amount in County Wicklow.
At the same time, Terry sent Kothiria to East London to collect 10 kilos of cannabis and a vacuum packing machine.
Kothiria brought these back to the West Midlands where the cannabis was packed before he took it to County Leitrim in Ireland.
The final drug run captured on Encrochat occurred between May 26 and June 3, 2020, where Terry discussed a cannabis delivery.
When Kothiria was sent to pick up the load from Leicestershire and take it to Ireland, NCA officers worked closely with the Police Service of Northern Ireland to track his movements.
While Terry and Collis both pleaded guilty to drug trafficking offences in April, Kothiria and Khan were convicted in May following a trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court.
–Ajit Weekly News
News Credits – I A N S