A criminal group who masterminded a plot that brought millions of pounds worth of heroin and cocaine into the UK over five years have been jailed in The Netherlands.

The National Crime Agency launched an investigation in 2016 when drugs valued at over £12.5 million were found at Purfleet Docks, in a delivery of car batteries that were heading to an industrial site in Essex.

The drugs, which totalled 55 kilos of heroin and 60 kilos of cocaine, were found hidden in jump starters and followed a pattern seen in other drug seizures that had come into the UK from The Netherlands.

NCA officers obtained evidence which led to the arrest of seven men in The Netherlands, and the seizure of firearms, grenades and cash.

Yesterday [29 March] in Utrecht, five of the men were found guilty and sentenced to a total of 57 years in prison.

The ringleader of the group, Marcel Doest, a 38 year-old from Nieuwegein, was sentenced to sixteen years in prison.  

His second in command, a 33 year-old, also from Nieuwegein, was sentenced to fourteen years.

Three other men who were involved in the conspiracy were also convicted and received sentences of seven and eight years.

The leaders of the group were found guilty not only of organising large drug transports from The Netherlands to the UK between 2013 and 2018, but also money laundering and dealing in stolen cars.

Regional Head of Investigations at the National Crime Agency, Jacque Beer, said: “This outcome concludes an investigation that began in the UK and through close collaboration with our partners across Europe, ends in The Netherlands.

“Following a huge drugs seizure in the UK in 2016 and further analysis by NCA officers, information that was crucial to the arrest of the main subject and the apprehension of the others was uncovered.

“These men were clearly serious and organised criminals, who sought to profit from trafficking drugs and other criminality.

“Through joint working with our colleagues both in the UK and abroad, we’ve stopped a huge amount of Class A drugs from reaching the streets and yesterday’s result will have fractured a key source of drugs from entering the market.”

30 March 2021