14/12/2018

Manhunt For Alleged Cocaine Smuggler With NI Links

The National Crime Agency is on the hunt for a lorry driver with links to Northern Ireland over a £7million cocaine haul.

A warrant was issued for Lee James Hartness' arrest when he failed to appear at court to face a drug smuggling charge in August.

The 47-year-old was detained by border force in November 2016 when cocaine weighing over 90kg was found in a purpose-built hideaway in the trailer of a lorry he was taking from France to Dover.

The drugs had a potential street value of around £7.2m.

NCA Branch Commander Matt Rivers said: "Two years ago Lee Hartness arrived at the Port of Dover and a significant amount of cocaine was seized from his lorry.
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"Hartness failed to attend his court hearing earlier this year and despite our extensive inquiries we have not yet been able to locate him. We are appealing to members of the public who may know the whereabouts of Hartness, or have any information that can help us find him.

"I would like to remind anyone helping Hartness, or frustrating our attempts to locate him, they could find themselves being arrested."

The suspect from Carlisle is described as white, around 6ft, of medium build with both arms heavily tattoed with Japanese flower designs. He is also reported to have a dragon and serpent design on his chest.

He is known to have connections in Northern Ireland, Carlisle and Newcastle-upon-Tyne and speaks with a northern English accent.

Anyone with information on Mr Hartness' whereabouts should contact the National Crime Agency on 0370 496 7622 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.



(JG/MH)

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