Gang jailed for scheme to import drugs worth £1.6bn using fake ambulances

Hannah Crouch

Hannah Crouch

A 60-year-old man from Slough has been jailed for 16 years for his part in a £1.6bn drug importation scheme.

Raymond DeSilva, of Cranbourne Road, was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court today (Monday) after pleading guilty to conspiracy to import and supply class A drugs.

DeSilva was part of a gang of six men who used a fleet of fake ambulances to bring drugs, including high-purity cocaine and heroin, to the UK from Holland.

An investigation conducted by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and West Midlands Police in June revealed the men were planning to distribute drugs with a street value of about £1.6bn.

The five other men involved were also sentenced at the same court.

James Gibson, 56, of Ollerton in Nottinghamshire, who played a leading role in the operation, was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment after pleading guilty to importing and supplying class A drugs.

Petrit Kastrati, 41, of Crystal Palace, London, was sentenced to 17 and a half years imprisonment for importing and supplying class A drugs.

Darren Owen, 48, of Rushden, Northamptonshire, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for conspiracy to import and supply class A drugs.

Richard Clarke, 36, of Acton, Suffolk, was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Jonathan Floyd, 47, of Burnage, Manchester, was sentenced to 15-years imprisonment for conspiracy to import and supply class A drugs.

Brent Lyon, operations manager at the NCA, said: “This was an audacious plot by organised criminals who were driven by profit and who went to extreme lengths to avoid law enforcement attention.

“Gibson’s influence and organisation was significant, from the relationship he had with the Dutch organised crime group to the trusted network of UK couriers he used to distribute substantial amounts of class A drugs throughout the country.

“The six men sentenced today knew they were engaged in serious and organised crime yet continued their drug trafficking activities regardless. However, due to the weight of evidence we provided, they were left with no choice but to plead guilty to all the charges put to them.

“I have no doubt that through our activity, we have disrupted the endeavours of a number of organised crime groups operating in the UK. We will continue to be flexible and use all the tools available to us to target organised criminals and protect the communities that we serve."

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