Three Men Jailed For 36 Years In Drug Operation

Three men have been jailed for more than 36 years in jail for their part of a drug smuggling operation between Amsterdam and Kent.

In March 2015, as part of a drugs supply investigation, Kent Police saw a man loading a VW Polo onto a recovery vehicle in Northamptonshire.

Later that day officers saw the same man – 43 year-old Zahid Mahmood from Hansworth – in Dover Road in Gravesend, meeting with Dutch national Bas Van Der Weijden (41) and unloading a suitcase from the boot of a Skoda Fabia into the boot of the Polo that was on the recovery truck.

Police later intercepted the recovery truck in Gravesend and carried out a search under the Misuse of Drugs Act. In the suitcase officers uncovered approximately 10 kilos of heroin and both men were arrested.

Officers also returned to the Fabia and found three further suitcases, which contained 32.4 kilograms of heroin and cocaine.

Detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate established that 41 year-old Van Der Weijden, from Eindhoven, had travelled back and forth between England and Amsterdam on regular occasions with 44 year-old Romeo Apostu.

Detectives further established that the two men had regularly booked hotels together in the Gravesend area and Van Der Weijden was also caught on CCTV in Gravesend buying the suitcases in which the drugs were found.

Having searched Van Der Weijden’s belongings, officers found a delivery note that led them to Springhead Road in Gravesend. On arrival officers found a delivery driver trying to find the same address to collect some items to transport to Holland. Enquiries with the freight company showed that they had performed 29 collections of this nature over a one year period.

Officers executed a warrant at the lock-up and found pallets of car batteries. Over 40 of the battery packs had been unboxed and stacked against a wall. They had been modified, with the main components being removed and a lead-lined hide created which was capable of holding around a one kilo package of drugs.

All three men were charged with supply of heroin and cocaine. The heroin had a street value of approximately £4 million, and the cocaine was worth around £100,000.

On 11 September, the three men were sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court. Van der Weijden was sentenced to 14 years in prison; Apostu was sentenced to 13 years; and Mahmood to 9 years and four months.

Detective Constable Angela Holder from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: "It is clear from the evidence that we secured that this was the supply of Class A drugs on an industrial scale. Drugs were being shipped into England quite professionally on occasions, with the offenders using some innovative techniques such as hollowed out car batteries, and some more basic techniques such as packing it into suitcases.

"By seizing such a large quantity of drugs we have not only prevented criminals from making a fortune out of illegal drugs, but also prevented the drugs from being distributed across the streets of Kent, where they would cause misery to drug users and local communities."


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