Lancashire man jailed for air conditioning drug smuggling
A Lancashire man jailed for 14 years for smuggling drugs into the UK in air conditioning units
A man originally from Bolton has been jailed for setting up an air conditioning company as a front for smuggling drugs into the United Kingdom.
The defendant, aged 40, appeared in Liverpool Crown Court charged with drug smuggling, fraud and money laundering, along with a gang of his cronies. The ringleader had been on the run across Europe for the last six years but was finally arrested in Greece in December last year.
The gang set up an air conditioning company in Leeds and used it to smuggle air conditioning units stuffed with cocaine into the country between July and September 2009. The units were shipped from Spain and were then transported to Stockport and other North West locations once they arrived in Leeds.
In September 2009, drug control officers searched a shipment of air conditioning units heading for the Leeds warehouse and found 10.5kg of cocaine, with an estimated value of £1.5m, stashed hidden away in the units.
Police officers raided a number of premises associated with the ringleader in Greater Manchester and found a quantity of drugs, drug paraphernalia, weapons, cash and fraudulent documentation.
Eighteen members of the gang were arrested around the time of the raids, but the defendant and gang ringleader managed to flee the country using a false passport. However, following six years on the run, the National Crime Agency (NCA) finally caught up with the criminal.
The defendant was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for his crimes. In total the gang was jailed for more than 170 years.
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