Drug smugglers jailed for 11 years


Following coordinated action by the National Crime Agency (NCA), Staffordshire Police and the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service Complex Casework Unit, two men have today been sentenced to more than 11 years after they pleaded guilty at Stoke Crown Court in relation to their involvement in importing drugs into the UK with an estimated street value of £4million.

On 11 February 2015 around 11am, officers from the NCA observed A Dutch registered Heavy Good Vehicle, driven by 30-year-old Dutch national Dave Van De Ven, entering an industrial car park on Leek Road, Cheadle, Shaffordshire.

A few minutes later, a Renault Clio van, driven by Barry Briggs, aged 43, also pulled into the industrial car park and met the HGV driver.

Both defendants were seen removing two boxes from the HGV trailer and putting them into the back of Brigg's van. Briggs then drove off.

The Clio van was stopped by officers from Staffordshire Police on the A52 Kingsley Moor as it travelled towards Cellarhead. Officers searched the vehicle and recovered two boxes containing a total of 30kg of heroin with a potential street value of £2.4million.

As the HGV exited the industrial park it was intercepted by other officers and a searched. This led to the recovery of a further box containing 10kg of cocaine with a potential street value of £1.6million.

Van de Ven claimed he had only delivered the drugs because he had been threatened at gun point by two men who had stowed away in the trailer of his HGV.

Briggs, who had travelled from West Yorkshire to Cheadle to meet Van de Ven, told police officers that he thought he was picking up counterfeit watches and designer goods.

Van de Ven pleaded guilty to importation of heroin and cocaine and was sentenced to six years and eight months and Briggs pleaded guilty to importation of heroin and was sentenced to five years.

Neil Fielding, District Crown Prosecutor from the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service's Complex Casework Unit said:

"This prosecution highlights the work that the criminal justice agencies are doing to tackle, disrupt and prosecute those individuals who try to import illegal drugs into the UK.

"Both defendants held out to the day of their trials before pleading guilty but due to the joint efforts of the agencies involved the evidence against each of them was overwhelming.

"Dave Van De Ven and Barry Briggs where detained trying to import £4million of heroin and cocaine, which would have been destined for towns and cities up and down this country.

"The Crown Prosecution Service will continue to work with our partner agencies to ensure those arrested for such crimes are robustly prosecuted."