A man who smuggled cocaine worth almost £4m into the UK in a lorry also carrying two horses has been jailed for 17 years.
Dutchman Marinus Van Gerwen, the father of international showjumper Jody Van Gerwen, who has competed at youth European Championship teams, was stopped as he drove the horsebox into Dover’s Eastern Docks on 13 July last year.
Officers found 50 one-kilogram blocks of cocaine concealed in a purpose-built hiding place in the lorry wall. The drugs’ estimated street value was £3.96m.
The two horses in the back were collected by a transportation company and taken to a vet.
Van Gerwen denied all knowledge of the class A drugs and said the purpose of his journey was to take the horses to a woman in Bracknell.
But when Dutch police raided his home, in Limbricht, the Netherlands, they found €270,000 (£235,000) in cash.
Yesterday (24 January) Van Gerwen, 52, was found guilty of importing class A drugs, at Canterbury Crown Court, and sentenced to 17 years in prison.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) and Border Force had worked together on the case.
NCA senior investigating officer Darren Herbert said: “The organised criminals involved in the distribution of cocaine are often also linked to violence and exploitation.
“They rely heavily on smugglers like Van Gerwen, so his was a key role in a longer, damaging chain.
“We work closely with partners overseas and our Border Force colleagues to target those who seek to undermine the security of the UK border, and bring them to justice.”
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Paul Morgan, director of Border Force South East and Europe, added: “Working with the NCA, Border Force officers were able to stop a significant amount of illegal drugs from reaching the streets of the UK, where they would have caused significant harm to vulnerable individuals and wider communities.
“This was a sophisticated concealment and demonstrates that Border Force officers and our law enforcement partners need to remain vigilant at all times to prevent illegal importations through the border.”
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