Lorry driver who smuggled £480,000 of cocaine while delivering frozen potatoes is jailed

Bryan Anthony Hughes was stopped in his lorry at the UK Inbound border in Coquelles, France in October Credit: NCA

A lorry driver has been jailed for smuggling £480,000 worth of cocaine while delivering frozen potatoes.

Bryan Anthony Hughes, 30, from Ballymena, County Antrim, was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court to seven years and six months on Friday, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

The NCA said it started an investigation into Hughes after his lorry was stopped at the UK Inbound border in Coquelles, France, on October 16 last year. Hughes told Border Force officers he had been to Tilburg in the Netherlands.

His cab was then searched by officers and eight kilos of cocaine was found inside baggage and in a locker.

NCA officers estimate the drugs would be worth £480,000 at street level.

The investigation found that Hughes had travelled from the Netherlands, having collected a legitimate cargo of frozen potatoes for delivery in the north west of England.

Hughes made no comment when interviewed by officers, but the NCA said he later pleaded guilty to importing a Class A drug at Canterbury Crown Court on December 2.

The NCA said he was sentenced at the same court on Friday.

Mark Howes, NCA branch commander, said: "This quantity of cocaine would generate significant revenue on UK streets, so this seizure will cause a dent in the profits of the organised crime group it was destined for.

"Criminal groups use smugglers like Hughes to bring their drugs into the UK and our message to anyone tempted to try and make what they may consider easy money through smuggling is that you will be caught.

"We work closely with our partners, including Border Force, to stop the flow of illicit drugs into the UK and will continue to prosecute those involved."

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