A Nottingham man who tried to distance himself from a drug smuggling attempt by letting his girlfriend carry a suitcase containing cocaine onto a ferry before meeting her on the other side has been jailed for ten years.
Kimberley Brown, 27, from Walters Row in Dudley was arrested by National Crime Agency and Border Force officers at Dover on 18 November 2015. She had travelled to France via a Eurolines coach from Victoria Coach Station in London the day before.
Her boyfriend Garvey Barnes, 36, of Mansfield Road in Nottingham, had travelled to France separately via car, but the two met and stayed overnight in a hotel in Calais.
The following day they returned to the UK, Barnes in his car and Brown as a foot passenger on a later ferry.
As she disembarked Brown was intercepted by Border Force officers, who found two kilos of cocaine in the false bottom of her suitcase. Once cut and sold the drugs would have had a potential street value of up to £240,000.
National Crime Agency investigators were then able to obtain mobile phone evidence linking her to Barnes. They had met in Dudley the day before the drugs run and had sent messages arranging to meet once in Calais. NCA analysis also showed the two had been in contact during the journey from Calais. Barnes was still in the Dover area at the time of Brown’s arrest and made numerous attempts to contact her.
When he was interviewed by investigators in August 2016 Barnes denied any knowledge of the drugs run, but he was charged in connection with the importation attempt.
On Wednesday 2 August both Barnes and Brown were found guilty of being concerned in the importation of class A drugs by a jury at Canterbury Crown Court.
A third defendant, Leon Allen, 28, from Nottingham, was acquitted.
The following day, Thursday 3 August, Barnes, who had previous convictions for armed robbery and cannabis cultivation, was given a ten-and-a-half year jail term. Brown was sent to prison for four-and-a-half-years.
Richard Bowen, from the NCA’s Dover border investigations team, said:
“No doubt Garvey Barnes stood to make significant financial gain from this drugs run, but it seems he was happy to let his partner take all the risks.
“Despite this we were able to put evidence before a jury proving he had a leading role in the importation of this cocaine, and this is reflected in his lengthy jail term.”
Paul Morgan, Director of Border Force South East and Europe, said:
“By preventing this smuggling attempt, Border Force has stopped a vast quantity of illegal drugs from reaching the UK’s streets and prevented criminals from lining their pockets with a substantial profit.
“Border Force officers are at the forefront of the fight to keep illegal drugs out of the country and we continue to work with law enforcement partners to tackle these crimes.”