London, May 20 (IANS) An Indian-origin man and four others have been convicted for conspiring to supply drugs worth millions of pounds from the Netherlands to the UK and Ireland, following a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.
Joshpal Singh Kothiria, 33, who was recruited as a driver to supply drugs to customers in Ireland, was convicted at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Friday after a two-week trial.
Anthony Terry, 49, organised the importation and was under surveillance when 1.6 million-pound worth of cocaine was seized at Belfast port on February 22. 2021.
The drugs were transported from the Netherlands to England and then across on the ferry to Northern Ireland in fuel tanks being transported within a van.
Terry, who recruited Kothiria, sent him to East London to collect 10 kilos of cannabis and a vacuum packing machine, according to a statement released by NCA.
Kothiria brought these back to the West Midlands where the cannabis was packed before he took it to County Leitrim in Ireland.
Terry and his organised crime group associates were using the encrypted messaging service Encrochat and the NCA identified other occasions in 2020 when he had smuggled drugs and cash for other organised crime groups.
The final drug run captured on Encrochat occurred between May 26 and June 3, 2020, where Terry discussed a cannabis delivery.
Kothiria was sent to pick up the load from Leicestershire and take it to Ireland.
He was arrested in March 2021, and following a trial in November 2022, Terry was jailed for 18 years.
"This was a sophisticated operation to smuggle drugs into the UK and Ireland to make significant profit," Mick Pope, NCA Branch Commander, said.
"Terry was the kingpin of this group, offering a service to criminals who needed to obtain drugs or move money," Pope said in a statement.
Terry was charged with the additional drug trafficking offences linked to the messages found on his Encrochat device in April 2022 and pleaded guilty in April this year.
Kothiria will be sentenced along with other gang members at a later date to be confirmed.
The two other gang members who were convicted along with Kothiria and Terry were Michael Collis, 62, from Wolverhampton and Mohammed Omar Khan, 38, from Birmingham.
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