Seven men jailed in £4.5 million drugs haul in London, England

Seven men were jailed for a total of 91 years today, 2 August, for their roles in a £4.5 million drugs haul involving corrupt baggage workers at London’s HeathrowAirport.

The men were part of a drugs gang which hired baggage workers to help smuggle 12kg of cocaine into the UK from Brazil.

The sentencing follows an intelligence-led, multi-agency operation, involving officers from the Metropolitan Police Service, Serious Organised Crime Agency, United Kingdom Border Agency and HM Revenue & Customs.

Officers from the MPS’s Serious and Organised Crime Command tracked the gang over a number of months, which led to six of the men being arrested. During the arrests officers seized 12kg of cocaine. Half of this was subsequently analysed and found to be around 99 per cent pure. The total 12kg seizure had an estimated street value of more than £4.5 million.

Mark Oliver, 30, Malcolm Bax, 31, Andrew Robinson, 46, and Michael Hopkins, 51 were all found guilty of being knowingly concerned in the importation of cocaine, following a trial at Croydon Crown Court.

Anthony Rouse, 53, Charles Oliver, 29 and Anthony Cenci, 24, had all previously pleaded guilty to the same charge.

Mark Oliver was jailed for 19 years; Bax for 15 years; Robinson for 13 years and Hopkins for nine years.

Rouse was given 13 years; Charles Oliver 12 years and Cenci was jailed for 10 years.

Detective Inspector Robert Boggon, from the Serious and Organised Crime Command, said;

"More than £4 million-worth of cocaine, which was no doubt bound for London’s streets and beyond, has been removed from circulation. Today’s sentencing clearly illustrates the fantastic liaison and cooperation between a number of agencies, to combat the importation of controlled drugs.

"We work tirelessly to keep drugs off the streets by bringing criminals like these to justice."

Rouse masterminded the crime in the UK, with the help of brothers Mark and Charles Oliver. Rouse employed the pair for their connections within a baggage-handling company at HeathrowAirport.

The Oliver brothers introduced Rouse to Robinson, who had worked for a baggage-handling company at Heathrow, until leaving in 2005. He still maintained his contacts, which was vital to organising the crime. The Olivers also recruited Hopkins, who was a close friend of the brothers, to help organise the operation.

Robinson in turn knew Bax, who at the time was working as a supervisor and union rep at the baggage-handling company. Bax recruited Cenci, a baggage worker from within his department, to pick up the drugs and transport them out of the airport.

The drugs were imported from Brazil on 27 September 2009 onboard a flight to London Heathrow. They had been placed in a large orange suitcase so that they could be easily spotted by Cenci on arrival.

Officers from MMDP had been conducting a protracted surveillance operation on the gang, tracking their activities for some months.

Cenci picked up the orange case as planned and left in a white van to deliver the drugs. Bax directed him by mobile telephone to Desford Way, where Rouse was waiting.

Cenci then met Rouse in Desford Way to deliver the drugs. SOCA officers had followed the two men and arrested Cenci at the scene. Rouse drove at an officer’s vehicle, shunting it out of the way to escape. He was later arrested in April 2010.

At the same time as Cenci was arrested, SOCA officers arrested Charles Oliver and Hopkins, who were acting as lookouts, close to where Cenci and Rouse had met.

Mark Oliver was arrested later the same evening by SOCA officers in Gordon Road, Ashford, Middlesex. Robinson and Bax were arrested the following day.

Officers from MPS later searched Rouse’s home address in Addison Way, Uxbridge. They found two metal sieves with visible amounts of cocaine and drinking straws which also had traces of cocaine. After further analysis the cocaine was found to be more than 76 per cent pure.

Full details of defendants – all the below were sentenced for knowingly being involved in the conspiracy to import cocaine:

Mark Oliver, unemployed, of Poplar Road, Ashford, Middlesex, was jailed for 19 years.

Michael Hopkins, unemployed, of Wessex Court, De Havilland Way, Stanwell, Staines, was jailed for nine years.

Malcolm Bax, a supervisor and union representative at an airport baggage unit, of Clandon Avenue, Egham, Surrey, was jailed for 15 years.

Andrew Robinson, unemployed of Worple Avenue, Staines, Middlesex, was jailed for 13 years.

Anthony Rouse, unemployed, of Sutcliffe House, Addison Way, Uxbridge, was jailed for 13 years.

Charles Oliver, unemployed, of Clare Road, Stanwell, Staines, Middlesex, was jailed for 12 years.

Anthony Cenci, a baggage handler of Bower Way, Cippenham, Slough, was jailed for 10 years.

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