UK Border Force official convicted of gun-running

|News, Drug offences

UPDATE: On 16 November the three men were sentenced: Simon Pellett (23 years), David Baker (20 years) and Alex Howard (10 years).

A UK Border Force official has been convicted of working with other men to smuggle drugs and firearms into the UK.

Simon Pellett, 37, was arrested by French police on 6 October 2017 in a supermarket car park in Loon Plage between Calais and Dunkirk.

Pellett and two other men were convicted today (13 November 2018) after a trial at Isleworth Crown Court.

Convicted men and illegally imported weapons and drugs
L-R: Baker, Howard, Pellett and some of the illegally imported firearms

Pellett was arrested after three heavy bags were loaded into the back of his unmarked Border Force van by David Baker, 55, who had driven his own car to the meeting point at Loon Plage.

Inside the bags were 6kg of heroin (£800,000 street value), 34kg of cocaine (£2.8m street value), 8 automatic pistols, two revolvers, three silencers and ammunition, including a magazine for a Skorpion sub-machine gun.

Pellett said that he thought he was only transporting a legal ‘oil-like’ substance used as an adulterant which would attract the attention of the authorities if bought in bulk in the UK.

Alex Howard, 35, who had been keeping lookout nearby in the car park, was also convicted. He said he thought he was helping smuggle cigarettes.

All three men were extradited from France back to the UK to face trial.

Kate Mulholland, of the CPS, said: “Our prosecution was able to prove that each of these men must have known they were knowingly smuggling firearms or drugs into the UK.

“This was a sophisticated operation using a UK Border Force employee who was supposed to be protecting the UK from these offences.

“Their defence that they did not know the real contents of the package was clearly not credible, and was disproved by surveillance, phone evidence, and the amount of drugs and weapons involved.”

*This article was updated to correct the name of the organisation for which Simon Pellett formerly worked. We erroneously stated that he had been an employee of the UK Border Agency*

Notes to editors

  • Kate Mulholland is a Specialist Prosecutor in the London CPS Complex Casework Unit

Convicted:

  • Simon Pellett [DOB: 13/09/1981] of Dover
  • Alex Howard [DOB: 01/05/1983] of Sittingbourne, Kent
  • David Baker [DOB: 18/11/1962] of Beckenham

Charges:

  • Pellett, Baker and Howard: knowingly concerned in concealing goods, namely cocaine, with intent to avoid prohibition on importation,
  • Pellett, Baker and Howard: knowingly concerned in concealing goods, namely heroin, with intent to avoid prohibition on importation,
  • Pellett and Baker: knowingly concerned in concealing goods, namely firearms, with intent to avoid prohibition on importation,
  • Pellett: Misconduct in a public office

Further reading