A WAREHOUSE in Redditch was used by a drugs ring to smuggle over 15 tonnes of cocaine into the UK inside frozen chickens.
Six people connected to the plot, which involved importing the Class A drug from the Netherlands, were given prison terms totalling 58 years at Sheffield Crown Court last Friday.
The offences took place between September 2021 and December 2022 and came to light following an investigation by the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit (YHROCU).
Officers from the YHROCU seized 311kg of cocaine, estimated to be worth £31million, and 35kg (£7million) of methylamphetamine, also known as crystal meth, from addresses in Leeds and Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.
Drugs runner Steven Gibson, from Glasgow, was trusted to collect large quantities of drugs from Redditch where they were imported to from abroad.
On December 15 last year, Gibson’s vehicle was seen leaving the warehouse unit in Summer Street, Redditch, where the cocaine was collected from. He was seen meeting fellow drugs courier Darren Hunter, also from Glasgow.
Holdalls were taken from Gibson’s van and put into the boot of Hunter’s Toyota Corolla.
Police officers then attended the Redditch warehouse where they found pallets of frozen chicken.
A legitimate Dutch haulage company was used to deliver the drugs from overseas unaware of the cocaine hidden within the consignments.
Between March and December of last year, the firm made 34 deliveries of frozen chicken to the Redditch unit, totalling 318 pallets.
Speaking after the sentencing, senior investigating officer Det Ch Insp Al Burns, who led the investigation for YHROCU, said: “The excellent work by the investigation team led to the seizure of a huge amount of illegal drugs, taking them away from the streets of Yorkshire and Humberside and other areas across the country where they were destined to be delivered.
“In terms of value and quantity, it is without doubt the biggest drugs investigation we have conducted and is believed to be the largest prosecution of its kind in the country.
“We estimated that this organised crime group imported over 15 tonnes of cocaine into the country and I have no doubt that, had we not intervened and broken up their enterprise, they would have imported much more.”