Kent

Dover cannabis haul hidden in cheese

Hendrick Ruben and Dominic Leeman Image copyright NCA
Image caption Hendrick Ruben was jailed for six years and Dominic Leeman five-and-a-half

Two men who tried to bring £5m-worth of cannabis into the UK hidden in cheese have been jailed.

Dominic Leeman, 29, from Arnhem, and Henrik Ruben, 28, from Dieren, both in the Netherlands, were caught bringing the haul through Dover.

The drugs were packed in two consignments of grated pizza cheese and salad toppings.

Both were found guilty at Maidstone Crown Court of conspiracy to import controlled drugs.

Ruben was jailed for six years and Leeman was handed a five-and-a-half-year sentence.

During their trial, the court heard a bogus company called Bertus Foods - also known as Global Foods - based on an industrial estate in Slough was used as a front for the drug-smuggling operation.

Image copyright NCA
Image caption The cannabis was hidden in a consignment of pizza cheese and salad toppings, the court heard

A spokeswoman for the National Crime Agency (NCA) said: "They were part of a wider organised crime group and operated two units on the industrial estate, where the cannabis would be unpacked.

"The cheese would then be repackaged and shipped back to the Netherlands to be used again."

She said the pair used encrypted phones, but NCA investigators accessed their messages, uncovering arrangements to transport the cannabis to clients.

In one text, one of the group said: "Do I have to put the old cheese in those boxes the product is delivered in?"

NCA branch commander Martin Grace said: "This is a significant disruption of an organised crime network who were intent on bringing illegal drugs into the UK.

"The pair thought they could fool us by disguising cannabis in food shipments."

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