Horsebox smuggler saddled with 17 year sentence

25 January 2018

A 52-year-old man has been jailed for 17 years for attempting to smuggle £3.96 million worth of cocaine into the UK hidden in a horsebox, following a joint investigation by the National Crime Agency and Dutch police.

Border Force officers worked with the NCA to stop Dutch national, Marinus Van Gerwen, as he arrived at Dover Eastern Docks driving a horsebox on 13 July 2017.

Officers searching the vehicle found 50 one kilo blocks of cocaine hidden in a purpose-built concealment in the wall. The cocaine had an estimated street value of £3.96 million.

There were also two horses in the back which were collected by a horse transportation company and taken to a vet.

Van Gerwen denied all knowledge of the drugs and claimed the purpose of his journey was to deliver the horses to a female associate in Binfield, Bracknell.

Following his arrest in Dover, Dutch Police raided Van Gerwen’s house in Limbricht, Netherlands, and seized €270,000 in cash.

Yesterday, Wednesday 24 January at Canterbury Crown Court Van Gerwen was found guilty of importing class A drugs and was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Senior Investigating Officer at the NCA, Darren Herbert, said: “The organised criminals involved in the distribution of cocaine are often also linked to violence, exploitation and gang culture.

“They rely heavily on smugglers like Van Gerwen, so his was a key role in a longer, damaging chain.

“We work closely with partners overseas and our Border Force colleagues to target those who seek to undermine the security of the UK border and bring them to justice.”

Paul Morgan, Director of Border Force South East and Europe, said: “Working alongside the NCA, Border Force officers were able to stop a significant amount of illegal drugs from reaching the streets of the UK, where they would have caused significant harm to vulnerable individuals and wider communities.

“This was a sophisticated concealment and demonstrates that Border Force officers and our law enforcement partners need to remain vigilant at all times to prevent illegal importations through the border.”

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