Portsmouth docks cocaine smuggling gang jailed

Clockwise, from top left: Richard Edwards, Norman Burton, Audley Powell, Shaun Wilson, Eric Ward, Roy Godber, David Roberts, Donald Chambers, Jason Flisher and Errol Heibner Shaun Wilson (top row, fourth) conspired with the nine men to import cocaine into the UK

Ten people have been jailed for up to 20 years for attempting to smuggle millions of pounds worth of cocaine in crates of bananas and pineapples.

Portsmouth dock worker Shaun Wilson, 46, met criminal gangs in service stations, pubs and parks to devise the scheme, Winchester Crown Court heard.

Shipments coincided with Wilson's shifts, but officers of the National Crime Agency (NCA) were watching.

The NCA described the smuggling operation as "vast".

Details could be reported after Audley Powell, 56, the tenth defendant, was jailed for eight-and-a-half years.

A 26kg batch of cocaine hidden in a container of pineapples on a ship from Costa Rica was the first to be seized.

Wilson's arrest led to a second attempt being thwarted by the agency.

Wilson was found guilty in 2011 in connection with the first shipment and was jailed for 14 years.

He admitted involvement in the second plot and received a concurrent eight-year sentence.

Cocaine smugglers under surveillance The men were under surveillance as they met in parks to hatch their plot

Gerry McGowan of the NCA said: "Wilson abused his position of trust by providing the crime groups with details of suitable ships, routes and times.

"He was going to ensure he was on duty to guarantee safe removal of the drugs.

"The long-term plan was to import vast quantities of cocaine on a regular basis."

The other men jailed for conspiracy to import cocaine were:

  • Roy Godber, 64, from Rainham, Essex (20 years)
  • David Roberts, 61, from Romford, Essex (20 years)
  • Richard Edwards, 51, from Barking, east London (20 years)
  • Jason Flisher, 43, from Folkestone, Kent (16 years)
  • Errol Heibner, 69, from Bow, east London (14 years)
  • Norman Burton, 57, from Catford, south London (14 years)
  • Donald Chambers, 55, from Charlton, south London (13 years)
  • Eric Ward, 51, from Portsmouth (10 years)

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