Drug smugglers using Hull warned: 'We'll catch you'
GANGS smuggling drugs into Hull have been warned they will be hunted down and caught – no matter how long it takes.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) issued the warning after securing the conviction of a member of a notorious drug-smuggling gang that used Hull as a point of entry.
Richard Wright, 51, was jailed for nine years for being part of a gang that tried to smuggle £2 million of cocaine into the UK via Hull Docks in 2004.
He fled the country and went on the run – continuing his illegal activities – but was tracked down and sentenced to nine years in prison at Manchester Crown Court last week.
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Mike O'Grady, HMRC assistant director of criminal investigation, said: "The message is clear – if you attempt to defraud the Exchequer, we will track you down and you will have your day in court."
Wright, of Chislehurst, Kent, fled the country eight years ago.
But the law caught up with him and he was jailed for his involvement in an attempt to smuggle 64lb of cocaine into the UK at Hull.
He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import class A drugs through Zeebrugge in Belgium after he was arrested by HMRC officers in November 2011.
HMRC said while he was on the run, Wright used several aliases and continued to trade in drugs and firearms.
He was arrested in Amsterdam in September 2007 and charged following the seizure of six firearms and 86lb of cocaine concealed in a car door as part of a Dutch National Crime Squad surveillance operation, known as Operation Dingo. He was identified from UK fingerprints and photographic records.
He was jailed for six-and-a-half years in 2008 and after serving his sentence in a Dutch jail, was arrested by HMRC officers and extradited back to the UK.
He was caught in Operation Giftwrapped, which saw seven of his fellow gang members jailed in 2006, following the seizure of the 64lb of cocaine at Hull Docks.
The drugs were hidden in a deep concealment, underneath solidified bitumen, within one of two pods on the rear of a tarmac truck.
The drugs were believed to be destined for organised crime gangs in Derbyshire and London.
Mr O'Grady said: "Wright fled the UK when circumstances got difficult and he saw we had arrested other gang members associated with the smuggling attempt.
"It became clear he had continued his illegal activities in the Netherlands in the intervening period when he was arrested by our partners there for similar drug smuggling offences.
"Combining our intelligence and expertise for both smuggling cases has protected UK citizens and wider European communities from this habitual organised criminal."