Two coach drivers have been sentenced to a total of 24 years in prison at Canterbury Crown Court, after being found guilty of smuggling 6 kg of cocaine into the UK.
The court heard that Alban Velaj and Gjevdet Gashi were arrested on 18 October 2010 at the inward controls at Dover when our agency officers searched a British registered coach.
The coach was empty apart from the two drivers who claimed they had travelled to Antwerp airport that morning to pick up a group of Chinese tourists and take them to the European Parliament in Brussels.
During the search of the coach, our officers found six packages of cocaine in the air conditioning unit of the coach roof. The drugs weighed approximately 6 kg when removed and had an estimated street value of £480,000.
Velaj and Gashi were found guilty by a jury at Canterbury Crown Court today on 17 May.
Malcolm Bragg, the UK Border Agency’s criminal and financial assistant director, said:
‘This is a strong warning to anyone who believes drug smuggling is acceptable. Clearly, the view of the courts is that it is a very serious matter and UK Border Agency officers will remain vigilant at all our ports and airports to prevent drugs reaching our streets.’
UK Border Agency officers use hi-tech search equipment to combat immigration crime and detect banned and restricted goods that smugglers attempt to bring into the country.
They also use an array of search techniques including detection dogs, carbon dioxide detectors, heartbeat monitors and scanners – as well as visual searches – to find well-hidden stowaways, illegal drugs, firearms and cigarettes which would otherwise end up causing harm to local people, businesses and communities.
Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to drug smuggling should call our hotline on 0800 59 5000.