A van driver has been jailed for 10 years after a consignment of catering supplies he brought into the UK was found to be concealing heroin and cocaine worth £16.5m.
Ross Deffley, 26, from Solihull, was arrested and a National Crime Agency investigation began when he was stopped at the border in Dover in September 2021.
The van contained boxes of nitrous oxide canisters which are legitimately used within the catering industry and often found in pressurised whipped cream chargers.
However, when searched by Border Force officers, 183 kilos of heroin and cocaine was found hidden 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.
Yesterday he was sentenced to 10 years in prison at Canterbury Crown Court.
NCA Branch Commander Mark Howes said: “This was an extremely large amount of Class A drugs, with an estimated street value of £16.5m. The seizure would have been a major blow to the criminal network likely to be behind the attempted importation.”