Three men who plotted to smuggle £ 4.5million of drugs through Kent into aquariums have been jailed.
The trio said “we’re going to hit the jackpot” but have now been sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Wright, Rumbold and Youell were recorded by undercover agents
The scheme saw moving driver Brian Wright, 73, of Folkestone, conspire with Alfred Rumbold, 65, of Orpington, and Mark Youell, 64, of Clacton-on-Sea.
But National Crime Agency agents have secretly tracked their movements and recorded their conversations throughout the spring and summer of last year.
Officers watched the trio hold a series of clandestine meetings, as they planned to import Class A drugs using Wright’s legitimate moving company, which drove Rolls Royce.
Secret listening devices deployed by the NCA picked up a conversation during a meeting at a Kent cafe in July 2020 where they were overheard discussing border controls.
Youell told Rumbold and Wright, “We’re going to hit the jackpot” and that they were going to make “mega dough”.
Wright did a dummy run, taking his truck to the Netherlands.
He took a series of border control and security notes on his phone when he returned.
The following week, Wright fled for good, recovering the drugs, which had been sealed in aquariums.
However, as part of a joint operation involving the NCA and Dutch law enforcement, the truck was raided just outside Utrecht. Wright, who was sleeping inside, was arrested.
Dutch police recovered 20.5 kilograms of heroin, 32 kilograms of cocaine and three kilograms of MDMA, which together are believed to have had a UK market value of around £ 4.5million.
At the same time, the NCA arrested Youell and Rumbold at their home, seizing a number of phones, including encrypted Encrochat and Sky ECC devices.
Messages from Encrochat attributed to Rumbold by the NCA as part of Operation Venetic – the UK law enforcement response to the withdrawal from the platform – showed he was discussing with many criminals the potential to move drugs across Europe using Wright’s company.
At trial, Youell and Rumbold denied the drug importation charges, saying they were only seeking to smuggle alcohol, cigarettes, tobacco and cannabis.
Meanwhile, Wright, who was extradited from the Netherlands to the UK, denied any knowledge of the drug, saying he was only carrying furniture.
But a jury at Isleworth Crown Court did not believe them and found the three men guilty of conspiring to import Class A drugs.
A judge in the same court today sentenced Youell and Rumbold to 14 years in prison each, while Wright was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
NCA Regional Investigator Peter Stevens said: “Today’s sentences show how seriously UK courts take drug trafficking offenses and I salute them.
“The Class A drugs seized in this investigation would all have ended up in the hands of British criminal gangs involved in violence and exploitation, and would have earned Youell, Rumbold and Wright a large salary. By their own admission, they thought they had “hit the jackpot”.
“But they weren’t counting on the tenacity and expertise of the NCA officers who, supported by our Dutch partners, monitored their every move – even at the height of the Covid shutdown in the UK.
“I hope others involved in this type of activity will take note – we are determined to do everything possible to disrupt and dismantle the organized criminal networks involved in the international drug supply.”