Jail for drugs smuggler after lorry exhaust plot backfires

A DRUGS mastermind’s ‘sophisticated’ plot to smuggle GBP2.8million of cocaine into the UK in customised exhaust pipes backfired — landing him with a 15-year jail sentence. Jason Bunce, 57, hatched the plan to use two vertical pipes to conceal 36kg of the class A drug in a lorry from Rotterdam, Holland. But the vehicle, which was carrying grapes, was stopped in Dover after crossing from Calais on April 23.

Border control officers found the drugs in 18 packages crammed into a hollowed out compartment. It is believed they were destined for Belfast.

The National Crime Agency’s Gerry McLean said: ‘The lengths that Bunce went to in planning the importation into the UK demonstrated a high level of organised crime. ‘It’s clear from the evidence that the customised pipes were extremely valuable items that were part of much wider drug trafficking activity.’ Maidstone crown court was told analysis of encrypted messages on Bunce’s phone suggested the customised exhaust pipes had previously been loaned by him to other organised crime gangs who had stock to move.

Jail for drugs smuggler after lorry exhaust plot backfiresHollowed out: The customised exhausts used to store the cocaine (also below)

Jail for drugs smuggler after lorry exhaust plot backfires

In February, the NCA watched Bunce travel 150 miles from his home in Kingswood, Kent, to an industrial estate in Warwickshire and take the exhaust pipes from another lorry registered to the same firm in Northern Ireland. Bunce was also seen in Holland inspecting the area close to the pipes on the lorry that would later be stopped. Back in the UK he was waiting at a service station to meet the truck, the court heard.

Jurors acquitted the driver, accepting that he had no idea of the plot when he picked up a legitimate load of fresh fruit in Rotterdam. Bunce denied conspiracy to smuggle cocaine but was convicted following a trial in May. Sentencing him, Judge Julian Smith said: ‘You did this to satisfy your greed.

The stakes are incredibly high because the rewards are great.

‘You took the risk, you lost.

These are the consequences.’

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