Essex

Two jailed over £20m scrap metal cocaine smuggle plot

Two men have been jailed over a plot to smuggle more than £20m worth of cocaine into the UK inside scrap metal.

Neil Tindling, 35, of Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, admitted conspiracy to import cocaine and possession with intent to supply.

Tindling was jailed for 22 years at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Christopher Foile, 42, of Stebbing, Essex, who admitted possession of cocaine with intent to supply, was jailed for eight years.

'Prime mover'

The court heard Tindling tried to hide nearly 225kg of cocaine in a shipment of scrap metal from Guyana.

Prosecutor Martyn Bowyer said Tindling described himself as a "self-employed painter and decorator" who earned about £60,000 a year.

But Tindling was the "prime mover" in the plot and there was evidence he had made "very large" cash deposits and owned property in Jamaica and France, Mr Bowyer told the court.

Dutch police found the drugs concealed in rusty steel blocks when the ship docked in Rotterdam in October 2008 after a tip-off, said Mr Bowyer.

Officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) filled the blocks with sand, re-sealed them, then sent the shipment on to the UK.

SOCA then made arrests as Tindling and two associates tried to cut open the blocks in an isolated barn near Chelmsford, Essex, weeks later.

A third man - Brandon Coates, 34, of Morley, Leeds, who admits conspiracy to import cocaine - will be sentenced on Friday.

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