Brothers Glen and Gary Wheatley jailed over coach drug haul
Two brothers who used a holidaymakers' coach to import heroin worth £3m have been jailed.
Coach firm bosses Glen and Gary Wheatley, from near Houghton le Spring, County Durham, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import heroin.
Twelve kilos of the drug were found in a specially-built compartment of a coach stopped at Dover in 2011.
Glen Wheatley, 45, was jailed for 12-and-a-half years and Gary Wheatley, 51, for six years at Newcastle Crown Court.
A National Crime Agency (NCA) spokesman said a coach from the company they co-owned, Hetton le Hole-based G&G Travel, was stopped at Dover when it was carrying a group of tourists who had been on a trip to Belgium.'Coach company front'
The coach was driven by Gary Wheatley, of Station Avenue, Fencehouses, Houghton le Spring.
The specially-constructed compartment was found above one of the wheel arches and contained the heroin.
Glen Wheatley, of Easington Lane, Houghton le Spring, had driven over separately.
He went on the run before being arrested and charged in Amsterdam for a separate crime in July 2012. He was extradited in September 2013 to face the drugs charge, the NCA spokesman said.
Both admitted conspiracy to contravene prohibition on the importation of class A drugs.
The operation involved a number of agencies along with the NCA including law enforcement agencies in Belgium and The Netherlands and Northumbria Police.
NCA branch commander David Norris said: "The Wheatley brothers thought they could use their coach company as a front to smuggle heroin into the UK but they were wrong.
"We will continue to work with partners here and overseas to protect our borders and target drug traffickers."
The coach firm is no longer operating.