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Cocaine gang jailed after £20m seizure on M6 in Cheshire

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Media captionVideo from a police helicopter shows the moment gang members were arrested on the M6 near Knutsford, Cheshire

Two drugs gang bosses have been jailed after cocaine with a street value of £20m was seized from a van on the M6 in Cheshire.

The drugs haul on 2 August was the biggest seizure of cocaine on land in the UK, Cheshire Constabulary has said.

A total of 21 people were convicted following an investigation into organised crime groups led by Jamie Simpson, 31, and Jamie Oldroyd, 29.

Both were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court for conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Simpson and Oldroyd, both of no fixed abode, were jailed for 11 years and six months and 14 years and three months respectively.

Image copyright Cheshire Constabulary
Image caption Officers seized cocaine worth £20m during the policing operation

The court heard how Simpson and Andrew Daniels, 41, Clare Smith, 36, and Dean Brettle, 37, had travelled to Kent to pick up a drugs consignment, believed to have come from Europe.

Police stopped the gang driving to Warrington along the M6 near Knutsford, Cheshire.

Video footage from a police helicopter shows the moment Simpson was arrested after police vehicles surrounded his Ford Transit.

Image copyright Cheshire Constabulary
Image caption Jamie Oldroyd and Jamie Simpson were arrested following a 14-month covert investigation

Officers searched the vehicle and found 186kg of high purity cocaine concealed under the floor of the van and in the passenger seat.

The van had been adapted to conceal the drugs, which were hidden in large metal drawers and beneath a false floor, Cheshire Police said.

Daniels was sentenced to eight years and six months, Smith to eight years and nine months and Brettle to six years for conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Image copyright Cheshire Constabulary
Image caption Andrew Daniels, 41, Clare Smith, 36, and Dean Brettle, 37, travelled to Kent to pick up the drugs

Det Ch Insp Mike Evans, from Cheshire Constabulary, said the gang led "cash-rich" lives but their lavish lifestyles led to their arrests.

A video filmed on a phone shows Oldroyd and Taluant Paja, 22, who was jailed for six years and six months for his part in the conspiracy, counting out an estimated £150,000 in cash on a coffee table where Rolex watches can also be seen.

"They were carefree. There was an arrogance to them and they led a bit of a gangster lifestyle," added Det Ch Insp Evans.

Oldroyd's gang "would go to great lengths to conceal their criminality" by disposing of mobile phones and regularly changing vehicles, the court heard.

The gang was involved in supplying cocaine across the country including in Warrington, Carlisle, Scunthorpe, Darlington, Manchester and London.

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