Lengthy prison sentences for 'despicable' heroin smuggling gang
BORDER Force agents scuppered a gang's plan to smuggle more than £500,000 of pure heroin into the UK.
They found the drugs concealed in 32 parcels in a lorry trailer parked at Killingholme.
Manchester gang David Mather, 56, Stephen Tudge, 52, and William Pearson, 52, were convicted following a two-week trial at Sheffield Crown Court. They were sentenced to 18 years, 16 years and 14 years respectively at the same court. Mather was tried and sentenced in his absence after he failed to attend court.
The court heard how a lorry trailer, parked in Killingholme on May 7 2010, had arrived on a ferry from Zeebrugge at 7.30pm the previous day.
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The gang's plan was for Mather to instruct a driver to pick up the trailer from the port and deliver the load to Warrington.
The haul contained a total of 5.5 kilos of heroin at 100 per cent purity. The drugs would have had a street value of about £582,750.
Following a complex investigation, Mather and Tudge were arrested at their home addresses on May 22, 2011. Pearson was arrested in December 2011.
All the men denied any knowledge of the drugs or how they had ended up in the lorry, but gave conflicting reports of the events leading up to the seizure when questioned.
Malcolm Bragg, from Border Force, said: "Drug smuggling is a despicable crime.
"The sentences given to this gang should serve as a warning for others involved in this disgusting trade.
"We will catch you and you will spend many years in jail."