Nottingham

Gang who hid drugs in 'secret' sections of cars jailed

Christopher Turton (left) and Dale Wright (right)
Image caption Christopher Turton (left) and Dale Wright (right) ran the East Midlands-based drugs network

Ringleaders of a drugs gang who used cars with "secret" compartments to hide cocaine and amphetamines have been jailed.

Christopher Turton, 32, and Dale Wright, 42, both of Nottinghamshire, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs.

Turton was sentenced to 10 years and Wright six years and eight months at Stafford Crown Court.

Police said a car dealership was used as a front to move drugs.

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Vehicles were rebuilt with sections which could only be detected by x-ray.

Image copyright East Midlands Special Operations Unit
Image caption Police said helicopter footage showed cars, linked to a drugs gang, being dismantled

The East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) and the National Crime Agency discovered the compartments under windscreens, car boots and in gearboxes, with sophisticated pinprick locking systems.

The Southwell Motor Group, in Rainworth, now run as a legitimate business, was a front for moving drugs and laundering money, police said.

Police helicopter footage captured a car being dismantled hours after its owner was arrested in Portugal after being caught with cocaine worth £7m.

EMSOU said it seized more than half a tonne (500kg) of cocaine and amphetamines and stopped one courier in Leicester, with more than a £100,000 in cash.

A number of other people from parts of the East Midlands, London, Glasgow, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire have also been sentenced for their roles in the operation.

Image copyright East Midlands Special Operations Unit
Image caption Police found secret compartments with locking systems
Image copyright East Midlands Special Operations Unit
Image caption A large quantity of drugs were seized by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit

Det Insp Andy Jones said: "The drugs would be coming from the continent and worldwide and ultimately those drugs would be seen on the streets of Nottingham, Derby, Leicester and the rest of the UK.

"They were one of the biggest and most organised groups within the East Midlands."

Turton and Wright also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transfer criminal property.

The police operation was part of a global inquiry into Robert Dawes, a suspected crime boss from Sutton-in-Ashfield, who is awaiting trial in France.

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