Nottingham

Prisoner Russell Knaggs jailed for Colombia drugs plot

From left: Russell Knaggs, Phillip Hadley and Robert Rich
Image caption Russell Knaggs (left) was an inmate at Lowdham Prison at the time of the offence

The ringleader of a gang found guilty of plotting to import five tonnes of cocaine to the UK from Colombia, has been jailed for 20 years.

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 was given 18 years.

Robert Rich, 40, of Barnsley, was ordered to serve 14 years during sentencing at Birmingham Crown Court.

The three men were found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine during a five-month trial.

Anthony Perger, 51, from Sheffield, who admitted the charge ahead of the trial, was given a five-and-a-half year sentence.

'Beyond reach'

Knaggs was an inmate at Lowdham Grange prison at the time of the offence.

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" but the plot was foiled when prison officers found an outline plan during a cell search.

Officers found a two-sided piece of A4 paper with transfer routes and figures on.

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

Gerry Smyth, Soca's north east regional head of investigations, said: "Knaggs believed he could continue business from behind bars but no-one should think they are beyond reach.

"Soca and its partners will use their expertise and determination to stamp down hard on organised criminals, regardless of where they operate."

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