Couple jailed for importing drugs/money laundering - Bedfordshire

07/09/2012

A Bedfordshire grandfather has today, Friday, 07 September 2012, been sentenced at Luton Crown Court to 18-years in prison after being found guilty of drug dealing and money laundering.

George Evans, 76, of High Road, Beeston, Sandy, will serve 18-years for conspiracy to supply class A drugs (cocaine) and 18-months, to be served concurrently, for money laundering.

His wife, Anne, 55, of the same address will serve 18-months for her part in the money laundering offences.

Both denied the offences, but were found guilty by a jury at Luton Crown Court in July.

Their house, car and other assets are currently under restraint, pending an application to have them confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

George Evans was the owner of a Ford Ranger pick up truck, which had custom-made metal smuggling compartments built into the cargo space in order to hide 1kg blocks of cocaine. The truck, driven by an unsuspecting third party, was stopped in November 2009 on its way back through France from Girona in Spain, with a cover story of carrying aircraft parts out to the continent. However, on close examination the compartments contained 29kg of high-purity cocaine with a street value of £3million.

Bedfordshire Police were notified of the find and began a covert investigation in to Evans' affairs. The Evans' were living in a large house in Beeston, which they had purchased in their joint names for £410,000 cash a few months previously. But given neither had a declared income other than state benefits and had been made bankrupt only a couple of years earlier, the source of the money required to buy and fund their lifestyle seemed highly suspicious.

Before they could move into any overt phase of investigation, Anne contacted the police in March 2010, to say her husband had gone missing and she thought he had been kidnapped. As with any missing person enquiry, the police searched the house and outbuildings. This resulted in the discovery of 5kg of white powder, which later turned out to be Benzocaine, commonly used as a cutting agent to bulk out class A drugs, therefore maximising profits. George turned up two days later, badly injured, but refusing to tell police what had happened to him.

Another 18kg of Benzocaine was found in the workshop building that George Evans rented at Great Barford. Also found there was a Mercedes Sprinter van and a metal frame structure, which was clearly in the process of being fitted to replicate the smuggling compartments that the French police had found a few months earlier in the Ford Ranger.

Baljit Ubhey OBE, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: "George Evans was involved in a professional and organised operation to import substantial quantities of class A drugs. His wife, Anne Evans, chose to ignore her husband's criminality and sat back and enjoyed the proceeds of his lawless behaviour.

"The impact on communities of this high level drug importation is immense. Drugs can ruin the lives of those who use them and damage the lives of law abiding citizens who become the victims of crimes committed to fund drug habits. Mr and Mrs Evans were motivated purely by money, without a care for the misery on which their potential millions were mounted.

"Thanks to a dedicated and detailed police investigation, followed by a robust prosecution, a substantial quantity of Class A drugs have been removed from the supply chain, these big time criminals have been removed from society, and the public has been made safe from their dangerous, harmful, and life destroying activities.

"This case sends out a clear message that the CPS and the police take these offences very seriously and anyone involved in arranging or participating in drug importation or dealing can expect to be prosecuted robustly.  We will continue to work closely with our partners to ensure that persons involved in this kind of criminality are brought to justice.

"The CPS and police will now assist the Court in depriving the Evans' of the proceeds of their drug pedalling."

Detective Chief Inspector Shane Roberts, who oversaw the investigation said: "It's quite clear that George Evans has spent years making money from illicit means, using his connections with organised crime groups and his skills as a welder to import significant amounts of drugs into the UK from Spain via France. He lived a glamorous lifestyle; trips abroad, personal aeroplanes, expensive cars, a big house, it was all there. His wife enjoyed the trappings of the good life as much as he did.

"The Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) provides a unique opportunity to bring to justice those generating profit from crime and those living off it. Historically, gangsters' wives have lived on in luxury with impunity, but this is no longer the case. A confiscation process will now be implemented to strip the Evans' of everything they have, which has been bought from the proceeds of crime."

Case officer Sergeant Giles Hutchinson said: "Having brought you to justice we will restrain the assets accumulated from your ill-gotten gains and eventually have them confiscated. With a confiscation figure granted against you, you have only a limited period of time to hand over the money the court orders you to pay. Failure to do will result in a further default prison sentence which you will serve in full and on your release the confiscation amount will be there until the day you do pay."