Man sentenced to 15 years over importation of Class A drugs

25/07/2014

Michael Ebanks, 33, from Orpington, was sentenced today at Portsmouth Crown Court to 15 years after conspiring together to fraudulently evade the prohibition on the importation of a controlled drug of Class A, namely cocaine, imposed by schedule 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 contrary to section 170 (1) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 and possession of class B drug.

John Locke, Senior Crown Prosecutor for the Complex Casework Unit (CCU) of the Crown Prosecution service in Wessex said: "Michael Ebanks, Mark West from Purley and others, thought they had masterminded the perfect scheme to import class A drugs into this country. However, their criminal enterprise ended on 18 October 2012, when UK Border Agency officials intercepted a lorry and trailer arriving at Portsmouth International Port from Caen, France. The lorry was loaded with pallets containing flat rubber strips that were destined to be delivered to Michelin UK at premises at Unit 3, Lower Cousley Farm, Cousley Wood, East Sussex. These premises was rented out by Michael Ebanks.

"The search involved unpacking each of the pallets in turn, removing shrink wrapping and unfurling the rubber. In three of the pallets, under layers of the rubber, a well in the load had been formed in which a number of packages were concealed. The contents of the packages were tested and have been confirmed to contain cocaine hydrochloride.

"A total of 52 packages of cocaine were retrieved from three of the pallets, weighing in excess of 52 kilograms. Of those bags that have been tested, the drugs have been assessed as having a purity of  between 67% and 91%. Whilst it is common to find cocaine of purity in the region of 67% at the point of importation, the expected purity sold at street level will be in the region of 26.5%.

"The estimated wholesale value of a load such as this is £1,935,000 to £2,279,000. The estimated street value of the drugs is between £4,818,060 and £10,439,130, taking into account its quality and purity."If these drugs had been in circulation on the streets, one can imagine the damage it would have created and the numbers of criminal activities it would have generated.

"The jury heard how people working at neighbouring units on the farm frequently helped Ebanks to unload pallets of rubber. The investigation led by the National Crime Agency revealed that Ebanks had in his possession a false passport and in his car a wash-bag containing 4.08 gms of a class C drug, TFMPP, 50gm of cannabis resin and 3.89gms of herbal cannabis.

"The jury at Portsmouth Crown Court, after hearing the Prosecution and the Defence cases, was satisfied that Michael Ebanks was guilty of fraudulently evading the prohibition on the importation of a controlled drug of Class A, namely cocaine, imposed by schedule 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 contrary to section 170(1) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.

"This case demonstrates how the close work of CPS Wessex CCU and the National Crime Agency contributes to bringing to justice those who think they can enter into criminal activity such as the importation of illegal drugs.

"We will know be looking at confiscating their ill-gotten assets."

Another man, Mark West, pleaded guilty in November to conspiring fraudulently to evade the prohibition on the importation of a controlled drug of Class A, namely cocaine, imposed by schedule 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 contrary to section 170(1) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 and possession of class B drug. He will be sentenced at later date.