22 December 2016
Cash and property worth more than half a million pounds has been seized from an organised crime group who used a light aircraft to smuggle class A drugs into the UK.
Jamie Williams and Mark Dowling were convicted and sentenced alongside pilot Andrew Wright in February, following the seizure of 34 kilos of cocaine at an airfield in Breighton, North Yorkshire, in November 2014.
Wright, nicknamed Biggles by his co-conspirators, had flown the class A consignment from a private airfield in Germany. A National Crime Agency investigation showed he had made at least seven other trips previously.
He had been assisted by middleman Jamie Williams, who investigators showed would have collected the drugs and driven them south afterwards. Williams was arrested at his house in Upminster.
Dowling, from Brentwood, had arranged the shipments using his criminal contacts in the Netherlands. A ledger at his home showed he had been responsible for arranging importations totalling more than a quarter of a tonne of cocaine.
Among the items seized and confiscated as part of the investigation were:
- The Cessna plane used by Wright, sold at auction for £30,000 (right)
- A BMW car used by Williams, sold at auction for £12,000
- £65,000 from a company linked to the group, used to finance the purchase of the Cessna by Wright
- £106,000 and €17,500 cash seized from Williams’ home address
- £13,000 cash seized from Dowling’s home address
- Around £250,000 seized from two cash couriers convicted of money laundering in connection with the investigation
At the Old Bailey on Friday 9 December 2016 confiscation proceedings concluded with a judge ordering Wright to pay a further £32,000, including proceeds from the sale of a second plane, and Dowling £17,000. They have three months to hand the sums over or they will receive a further 18 months in jail, and will still owe the money.
It means that the total amount confiscated from the group now stands at £525,711.
Mick Maloney, from the NCA’s Border Policing Command, said:
“Many of those involved in this kind of organised crime see prison as an occupational hazard. Their motivation is almost always financial, so it can hurt much more when we strip them of any kind of benefit from their criminality, be that money, property or other assets.
“In this case in addition to stopping a crime group responsible for bringing in large amounts of class A drugs, we have taken assets worth more than half a million pounds, including a plane and car, out of the hands of organised criminals.”
The NCA investigation into the crime group and the subsequent proceeds of crime investigation was supported by the Metropolitan Police, Border Force and North Yorkshire Police.
Those convicted were:
- Andrew WRIGHT, DOB 23/08/1963, of Barlow, North Yorkshire, convicted of conspiring to import class A drugs; sentenced to 19 years in prison on 09/02/2016
- Jamie WILLIAMS, DOB 08/08/1977, of Bird Lane, Upminster, convicted of conspiring to import class A drugs, supplying drugs, possessing a firearm; sentenced to 23 years in prison on 09/02/2016.
- Mark DOWLING, DOB 23/08/1972, of Surman Crescent, Brentwood, convicted of conspiring to import class A drugs, supplying drugs, money laundering; sentenced to 24 years in prison on 09/02/2016.
- Vygantas GAIDAMAVICUIS, DOB 31/01/1976, of no fixed abode, convicted of money laundering; Sentenced to 18 months imprisonment on 20/11/2015
- Vincent VASSALLO, DOB 30/05/1955, of Radnor Walk, Tower Hamlets, London, convicted of money laundering; sentenced to 9 months on 18/12/2015