Five People Jailed For More than 88 Years After Major Drugs Smuggling Operation

21/11/2014

Seven people have been sentenced to a total of 88 years and 10 months in prison for their part in smuggling an estimated £60 million worth of drugs into the UK.

It follows a major nationwide and international investigation into the importation of cannabis, amphetamines and MDMA - the main constituent of ecstasy, which saw arrests take place across the West Midlands region as well as in The Netherlands.
The operation, which was launched in July 2013 and led by the Serious and Organised Crime Unit of Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police, saw a total of £13.5 million worth of drugs seized, including more than 1000 kg of cannabis, 107 kg of MDMA and 64 kg of amphetamines.

The drugs were imported into the UK from various locations in the Netherlands using legitimate hauliers who had no idea of the true nature of the loads they were carrying.  Once in the UK the drugs were taken to haulage yards in the West Mercia and Midlands area, where the parcels were separated and subsequently collected by organised crime groups from around the UK.  All of this activity was coordinated from a small office on a farm in the Kempsey area of Worcestershire. 

In terms of value, it is one of the biggest investigations Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police have ever conducted into the illegal drugs trade.

Today at Birmingham Crown Court the following people were sentenced for their involvement in the conspiracy to import and supply controlled drugs.

Robert Whitehouse, age 68, from Dusthouse Lane, Finstall, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, was sentenced to 22 years and six months in prison for conspiracy to import class A, conspiracy to import class B, conspiracy to supply MDMA, conspiracy to supply amphetamine and conspiracy to supply cannabis. He had previously pleaded guilty to the indictment on May 9, 2014, at Birmingham Crown Court.

Robert Scott, age 67, from Broughton Hackett, Worcester, sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to import class A, conspiracy to import class B, conspiracy to supply MDMA, conspiracy to supply amphetamine and conspiracy to supply cannabis. He had previously pleaded guilty to the indictment on May 9, 2014, at Birmingham Crown Court.

Richard Dale, age 51, from Maybrook Industrial Estate, Walsall, was sentenced to 12 years for conspiracy to import class A, conspiracy to import class B, conspiracy to supply MDMA, conspiracy to supply amphetamine and conspiracy to supply cannabis. He had previously been found guilty on all counts on the indictment on September 26, 2014, at Birmingham Crown Court.

Peter Hillback, age 42, from Charles Close, Cheslyn Hay, Walsall, was sentenced to 14 years and four months in prison for conspiracy to import class A, conspiracy to import class B, conspiracy to supply MDMA, conspiracy to supply amphetamine and conspiracy to supply cannabis. He had previously pleaded guilty to all counts on the indictment on August 11, 2014, at Birmingham Crown Court.

Jacobus Martinus Samson, age 64, from Beek Ubbergen, The Netherlands, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to import class A, conspiracy to import class B, conspiracy to supply MDMA, conspiracy to supply amphetamine and conspiracy to supply cannabis. He had previously pleaded guilty to all counts on the indictment on 13 October 2014, at Birmingham Crown Court.

DI Carl Moore, from Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police Serious Organised Crime Unit, led the investigation. He said:

"Operation Goal uncovered a significant organised crime group who were responsible for importing and distributing significant amounts of controlled drugs around the UK. The success of the investigation relied upon close cooperation with law enforcement agencies around the United Kingdom and Europe. The sentences handed out today should serve as a significant deterrent to anyone involved in criminality of this kind.

"We would like to thank all the UK forces and agencies involved in supporting our inquiries - the Bedfordshire, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire, Gwent, Greater Manchester and West Midlands forces, the West Midlands Regional Asset Recovery Team and National Crime Agency as well as the Dutch and German authorities."

Kiernan Cunningham, Senior Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service's Complex Casework Unit, said:

"These individuals have today been sentenced for their part in an organised criminal empire which was built on human pain and suffering. By all of their illegal actions these defendants were intending to add to that pain and suffering.

"I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute and to thank both West Mercia Police for their excellent work in apprehending these individuals and the Dutch police and prosecuting authorities for their invaluable assistance in bringing these defendants to justice. 

"The CPS and our partner agencies are working together to robustly prosecute those caught in the importation, supply and trade of illegal drugs."

Police operations against people importing and supplying illegal drugs into local communities often rely on information supplied by the public.  Anyone who suspects illegal drug activity in their neighbourhood can call police on the 101 number, or contact the anonymous Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.

Nigel Powell, age 52, from Hom Green, Ross on Wye. Herefordshire, had previously been found guilty of conspiracy to import class A, conspiracy to import class B, conspiracy to supply MDMA, conspiracy to supply amphetamine and conspiracy to supply cannabis on September 29, 2014, at Birmingham Crown Court. His case has been adjourned for sentencing at the same court on December 18.

Stephen Jones, age 54, from Broad Street, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire, had been found guilty on September 26, 2014, at Birmingham Crown Court of conspiracy to import class B drugs and conspiracy to supply cannabis. His case has been adjourned for sentencing at the same court on December 18.