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Prosecuting International and Organised Crime

Drug trafficking, people trafficking, use of firearms, money laundering, internet crime, fraud, serious robbery and organised vehicle crime at home and internationally, are all dealt with by the International Justice and Organised Crime Division. A specialist team of experienced prosecutors, the International Justice and Organised Crime Division work closely with the police and international law enforcement agencies to bring criminals to justice.

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"Ambulance" drug smugglers sentenced to 70 years

11/12/2015

Olof Schoon, Leonardus Bijlsma and Richard Engelsbell were sentenced today at Birmingham Crown Court to a total of 70 years for smuggling more than a billion pounds worth of drugs into the UK, hidden inside Dutch "ambulances".

The ambulance company, owned and run by Schoon, was a front for importing Class A drugs.

Andy Young, Specialist Prosecutor in the CPS Organised Crime Division, said: "This bogus operation was set up to make vast amounts of money. In pursuit of profit, the defendants ignored the enormous cost of human life that comes with importing these drugs. The quantities are staggering - the last trip alone involved nearly 270kg of drugs, with a combined street value of around £38 million.

"The defendants covered up their criminal activity by creating a fake ambulance company. There were no genuine patients, but to make their operation appear more legitimate, they even employed fake patients to travel in the ambulances.

"This was a sophisticated, highly organised operation but with close working between the Dutch National Police, the National Crime Agency and the CPS these criminals have been brought to justice."

Additional information

When one ambulance was intercepted in June 2015, 193kg of cocaine was found, with an approximate street value of just over £30 million. There was also 74kg of heroin with an estimated value of £8.14 million and 2kg of ecstasy and 20,000 tablets, worth around £60,000. The ambulance had been driven into the UK via a ferry and was intercepted in Birmingham.

For the total amount of trips, the estimated street value of the smuggled drugs was worth £1-1.2 billion pounds.

Olof Schoon and Richard Engelsbell pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing. Leonardus Bijlsma was found guilty by a jury.

Sentencing details:
  • Olof Schoon 24 years
  • Richard Engelsbell 18 years
  • Leonardus Bijlsma 28 years

Ends

Notes to Editors

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