A DRUG smuggler who tried to import a three kilo stash of cocaine with a possible street value of £750,000 has been jailed for ten years.
Andrew Jackson, 22, from Horsham, was stopped by UK Border Agency officers at Gatwick Airport on July 15, 2009, following a trip to St Lucia.
Officers discovered the drugs wrapped in six packages in a rucksack carried as hand luggage by Jackson, and he was arrested. The cocaine was 53 per cent pure, meaning the load had a potential street level value of up to £750,000.
Officers searched Jackson’s home in Walton Drive and further investigations showed that he had met Earl Henry, 32, at a burger restaurant before travelling to St Lucia.
Records of phone calls also showed contact between the two ahead of the St Lucia trip.
UK Border Agency investigators arrested Henry on March 10 2010 on suspicion of being involved in the importation of controlled drugs and searched his two addresses in Wembley and Crawley.
Several items were recovered including fourteen mobile phones, two SIM cards and various documents showing strong ties to St Lucia.
On Wednesday last week the pair were found guilty of importing class A drugs by a jury at Croydon Crown Court following a ten week trial.
On Friday Jackson was sentenced to ten years behind bars, while Henry got 12 years.
Tim Fleming, senior investigating officer from the UK Border Agency’s criminal and financial investigation team at Gatwick, said: “The vigilance of our staff at Gatwick Airport in stopping Jackson helped blow apart this drug smuggling ring.
“It started a complex two-year investigation which led officers to uncover further evidence that showed Henry was implicated.
“The challenge for us is to stay one step ahead of the organised gangs behind this vile industry.
“I hope the sentences handed out here show that we, and our law enforcement colleagues, are serious about tackling the criminals responsible for bringing illegal drugs into Britain.”
Two other defendants charged in relation to the Gatwick importation were found not guilty of conspiracy to import controlled drugs.
Anyone with information about drug smuggling can call the UK Border Agency hotline on 0800 59 5000 where anonymity can be assured.