Two men from the north west have been convicted after attempting to smuggle 243 kilos of cocaine into the UK on an empty passenger coach.
The National Crime Agency investigated Christopher Bullows and Mark Tucker after the coach was stopped at Dover Docks in September 2020. Bullows was driving the vehicle, and Tucker was his only passenger.
A search by Border Force uncovered the cocaine hidden in a specially constructed wastewater tank.
Bullows, 50, from St Helens, told NCA investigators that he had taken the coach to Belgium so that the air conditioning system, which was under warranty there, could be repaired. He said that Tucker was a friend and had come along ‘for the jolly’.
Tucker, 53, from Blackburn, said he was a mechanic and had joined Bullows on the trip to check on the repairs.
But further enquiries showed that the air conditioning had been mended in the UK just months before the trip.
Bullows and Tucker were subsequently charged with attempting to import class A drugs. Both initially denied the charge but Bullows changed his plea to guilty at Canterbury Crown Court on 22 April.
Tucker was convicted by a jury today (11 May) following a five-day trial at the same court. He and Bullows will be sentenced on 21 May.
“Class A drugs are inextricably linked to violence and exploitation in our communities, and we will continue to work with our partners to target the organised crime groups involved.”