A van driver who attempted to smuggle heroin and cocaine worth £16.5m by hiding it within catering supplies has been jailed for 10 years.
Ross Patrick Deffley, 26, from Solihull, was arrested and a National Crime Agency investigation began when he was stopped at the border in Dover on 21 September 2021.
The van contained boxes of nitrous oxide canisters for the catering industry. However, when searched by Border Force officers, 183 kilos of heroin and cocaine was found concealed inside.
NCA investigators subsequently found Deffley’s fingerprints and DNA on multiple packages containing 97 kilos of heroin and 86 kilos of cocaine. An extendable baton was also found inside the cab.
The consignment, which Deffley claimed was for the catering industry, was actually destined for a residential address he could access. Investigators found he had recently set up companies to transport nitrous oxide canisters, in which the drugs were smuggled.
Deffley was convicted of two counts of attempting to import class A drugs on 30 November, and had earlier been convicted of possession of an offensive weapon.
He was sentenced to 10 years in prison at Canterbury Crown Court today (6 January). He will now be subject to a confiscation investigation under the Proceeds of Crime act to identify and seize the cash and goods obtained from his drug smuggling.
NCA Branch Commander Mark Howes said: “This was an extremely large amount of Class A drugs, with an estimated street value of £16.5 million. The seizure would have been a major blow to the criminal network likely to be behind the attempted importation.
“Organised crime groups involved in drug trafficking are often responsible for violence and exploitation in our communities, so cutting off their international supply lines protects the public from the harm these dangerous drugs can cause.
“Working alongside our partners in Border Force, we continue to work on the frontline against drug smuggling.”
Dave Smith, Regional Director Border Force South East and Europe said: “Drug supply chains are violent and exploitative, degrading neighbourhoods across our country.
“The sentencing of Ross Deffley this week sends a clear message to anyone considering attempting to smuggle illegal drugs into the country that we remain committed and prepared in tackling drug supply chains.
“Those officers involved in this seizure can be proud of their work in stopping these dangerous drugs from entering our communities.”