1. ITV Report

Blackpool man jailed for cocaine smuggling plot

A 61-year-old man from Blackpool has been jailed for 28 years after masterminding a plot to smuggle 1.5 tonnes of cocaine into the UK.

John Alan Brooks was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court after a jury found him guilty of conspiracy to import the drug.

Brooks is originally from Blackpool but had been living in Marbella, Spain, before his arrest last November.

Brooks was living in Marbella in Spain Credit: Press Association

A spokesman for the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) described him as a "career criminal" and an "international fixer".

He was arrested after a boat called Dances With Waves carrying the drugs haul was intercepted by Irish authorities 170 miles (274km) off the south west coast of Ireland.

The boat had collected the cocaine in Venezuelan waters and was heading for Liverpool, Soca said.

Birmingham Crown Court Credit: Press Association

Matt Horne, Soca regional head of investigations, said: "Working with international partners to stop consignments of drugs before they can even reach our shores is a priority for Soca, and is just one of the ways we undermine the cocaine trade and put the UK illegal drugs market under stress.

"Brooks was the go-to man for organised crime groups as he was an expert in arranging the transportation of huge quantities of drugs. His criminal career stretches back nearly 30 years, during which time he has travelled extensively using false identities and has been imprisoned on a number of occasions.

"We also discovered he had escaped from a Moroccan prison in 2000 but once he was in our sights there was only ever going to be one place he would end up. Now he's back in prison where he belongs and we're going after his money.

"Not only have we kept a huge amount of cocaine out of the UK, we can be confident that a number of crime groups have also been denied profits which would otherwise have been reinvested in further criminal activity."