Prisoner Russell Knaggs guilty of Colombia cocaine plot

Three men have been found guilty of plotting to import five tonnes of cocaine to the UK from Colombia.

Russell Knaggs, from South Yorkshire, orchestrated the ambitious scheme while serving a 16-year drug sentence in a Nottinghamshire prison in 2009.

Phillip Hadley, 52, of Conisbrough, South Yorkshire and Robert Rich, 40, of Barnsley, were working on the outside.

Birmingham Crown Court heard the plot was foiled when prison officers found a plan "blueprint" during a cell search.

Detectives said if it had been successful, a "flood" of cocaine - valued at hundreds of millions of pounds - would have entered the UK market.

The jury heard Knaggs, 38, of Conisbrough, was an inmate at Lowdham Grange prison at the time of the offence.

'Plastering job'

The plot involved arranging for the drugs to be shipped from Colombia hidden in consignments of fruit.

They would arrive via Costa Rica, California, Germany and Belgium.

The court heard the men communicated in code, referring to the plot as "a plastering job".

After the plan was discovered, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) monitored the men both inside and outside the prison.

Detectives said the vast quantities of cocaine would have earned the men millions of pounds once sold in the UK.

Cassim Koubari, 38, of HMP Rye Hill, David Phillips, 56, of HMP Doncaster, and Melvin Smit, 34, of Roermond, Holland, were found not guilty of conspiring to import cocaine.

Anthony Perger, 51, from Sheffield, pleaded guilty to the charge at the start of the trial.

Knaggs, Hadley, Rich and Perger are due to be sentenced on 2 March.

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