An Irish lorry driver has been charged with attempting to import class A drugs after UK Border Force police discovered significant quantities of cocaine and heroin hidden in Belgian chocolates.
Robert Wilkin, a 64-year-0ld Irish national now residing in Essex, UK, was questioned by agents of the UK's customs force after his lorry was stopped at the Coquelles Channel Tunnel terminal on 12 August.
The lorry seemed to have a cargo of Belgian chocolate to be delivered to a location in the English county of Kent. However, UK Border Force officers found tape-wrapped packages hidden with the chocolate. Upon closer inspection, a total of 63 kilos of heroin and 32 kilos of cocaine were seized.
Once cut and prepared for sale, these would have had a street value of over £5.7 million (€6.6 million).
Wilkins was subsequently charged by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and will appear before Canterbury Crown Court on 13 September.
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NCA Branch Commander Martin Grace described the discovery as "a significant seizure of class A drugs of the type we see being distributed by violent and exploitative street gangs and county lines networks." He affirmed the determination of law enforcement bodies to "do all we can to disrupt and dismantle the organised crime groups involved in bringing these drugs to the UK.”
The smuggling of illicit substances into the UK from mainland Europe continues to pose a significant challenge to border forces on both sides of the Channel. In May a lorry driver was stopped in Dover with 70 kilos of ketamine and 20 kilos of mephedrone concealed around his HGV. The driver was sentenced on Thursday to five years and seven months imprisonment.
The Brussels Times