Six people have been jailed for a total of 38-and-a-half years for their part in an international drugs trafficking operation which saw drugs flown to Northamptonshire via the Netherlands and France.
Sentencing took place at Northamptonshire Crown Court today, Friday, following an investigation by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit – Serious Organised Crime (EMSOU-SOC) team and Northamptonshire Police. The operation resulted in the seizure of 5kgs of cocaine with a street value of £1.7 m.
Five of the men were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply controlled drugs on Sunday, June 26, 2011, while a further man, Abdelilah Hilali, was arrested in London on Wednesday, August 24 2011.
All were charged with conspiracy to import Class A drugs and conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
All six men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import Class A drugs but not to the second charge of supply, which will remain on file. They are:
• Christopher Andrew McGlone, aged 27, of Occupation Road, Corby was sentenced to five years
• James Martin McGlone, aged 30, of Occupation Road, Corby was sentenced to six years
• Wayne Burgess, aged 36, of Westfields Road, Corby was sentenced to four years
• Adel Chouhaib, aged 33, of Lingfield Walk, Corby was sentenced to ten years for his involvement in the cocaine conspiracy. He was also sentenced separately to one and a half years for conspiracy to supply cannabis from a drugs house in Grendon Avenue, Corby
• Richard Sweeney Murray, aged 48, of Greenhill Rise, Corby was sentenced to four years. He was also sentenced to 12 months to be served concurrently, for a separate unrelated offence of obtaining property by deception and fraud connected to a war pension.
• Abdelilah Hilali, aged 34, Marsham Street, London was sentenced to eight years.
The group operated as an organised crime network with Adel Chouhaib organising the importation and dissemination of the drugs. The operation was funded by the McGlone brothers, who were also involved in distributing the cocaine.
Mr Hilali arranged for the supply of drugs from Amsterdam while Mr Burgess and Mr Murray acted as couriers. The drugs were collected from Amsterdam by Mr Murray who drove by car to meet Mr Burgess at an airstrip in Abbeville, France. Mr Burgess then flew back to the UK with the shipment of drugs in a microlight aircraft before landing at Deenethorpe Airfield in Corby, Northamptonshire.
Co-ordinated arrests were made after Mr Burgess landed the plane and Mr Murray re-entered the country in Dover, Kent.
Prosecuting the case, James Thomas, said: “This was an organised criminal conspiracy. At the heart of the conspiracy was Adel Chouhaib, for recruiting Burgess and training him to fly the plane.
“Burgess, recruited by Adel Chouhaib, financed by him and others trained as a pilot. Richard Murray was recruited as a courier.”
In September 2010 Wayne Burgess began training at the Nene Valley Microlights centre, in April he completed that training. In May he bought a microlight aircraft paid for in cash and stored at Deenthorpe Airfield.
Adel Chouhaib admitted being a part of the organised crime group but challenged the prosecution case that he was in fact the ring leader. This resulted in a three day Newton Hearing in court to determine his role in the conspiracy.
Detective Inspector Greg Maides, senior investigating officer, from EMSOU-SOC said: “This was a hugely complex operation involving a number of different law enforcement agencies based both here and abroad. The criminal enterprise was highly planned, with preparation starting as early as 2010 when Mr Burgess began to train as a pilot.
“The drugs were destined for Northamptonshire and the Midlands and had they not been intercepted, they would have had a serious impact on the communities living and working there.
“I’d like to thank the officers and staff from EMSOU-SOC and Northamptonshire Police who worked so diligently to ensure this group ended up behind bars. This is an example of good solid police work with assistance from our counterparts in the Netherlands and France. We were supported by the Metropolitan Police who arrested Mr Hilali on our behalf, the Border Force who intercepted Mr Murray as he re-entered the country and SOCA who liaised with non-UK law enforcement on our behalf. A significant role was also played by the Crown Prosecution Service’s Complex Case Unit in presenting such a clear and persuasive case.”
Lawrence English, Head of the CPS East Midlands Complex Casework Unit added: “Importing and supplying drugs of this nature can have a devastating effect on people’s lives. The Crown Prosecution Service is determined to play our part in keeping our streets safe from this kind of threat. We worked closely with the forces who thwarted this criminal operation, providing advice throughout the investigation from an early stage. Thanks to the diligence and teamwork of the investigators we were able to present a case so compelling that the defendants had no option but to plead guilty.”
A Border Force spokesperson said: “Our officers are on constant alert to keep class A drugs and other banned substances out of the UK.
“Working together with other law enforcement colleagues we are determined to stop them reaching our streets and our communities.”