Kent

Pilot arrested on toilet jailed for cocaine smuggle plot

John Buwalda (left) and Jan Polak Image copyright National Crime Agency
Image caption John Buwalda (left) and Jan Polak were sentenced to a total of 40 years in prison

A Dutch pilot arrested in a hotel toilet with his trousers down has been jailed along with his accomplice for smuggling £2.4m of cocaine into the UK.

John Buwalda and Jan Polak were found guilty of plotting to smuggle the Class A drugs using a light aircraft following a trial at the Old Bailey.

They were arrested near Rochester Airport in Kent shortly after flying from the Netherlands on 30 June.

Burwalda was jailed for 23 years and Polak for 17 years.

'Trousers by his legs'

Burwalda, 53, from Hilversum, in the Netherlands, brought bags containing 48lb (22kg) of cocaine in a light aircraft from his home country.

He was caught on CCTV landing the aircraft before going to and from the plane with a suitcase and then checking in to a nearby Holiday Inn hotel.

Polak, 61, a Polish national living in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, took two sports bags from his van and went to Burwalda's hotel room for the handover of the drugs.

Image copyright National Crime Agency
Image caption Buwalda landed his light aircraft at Rochester airfield on 30 June

Jim McMorrow, a National Crime Agency officer, told the court: "Mr Buwalda was sitting on the toilet. He had a white top on and his trousers were by his legs."

Buwalda had told officers he worked for the Chinese Europe Medical Post Grad Academy, which trained dentists.

The Old Bailey heard he transported the drugs in red metal boxes which he claimed were wing weights used to prevent gusts of wind from lifting the wings while the aircraft is on the ground.

He said he took them into the hotel to "show off and look the part of a pilot".

Polak claimed he worked for a cosmetics company and denied knowing the packages contained illegal drugs.

He claimed he had been approached by an unknown man in London who asked him to deliver a parcel in exchange for money.

The drugs were handed over inside Buwalda's hotel room.

Andy Tickner from the Organised Crime Partnership, said: "The complex concealment in Polak's van points to him being a professional courier, trusted by organised criminals to transport illicit goods."

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