Pair claimed they'd taken the coach to Belgium to get the air conditioning fixed
Two men from the north west have been convicted after attempting to smuggle 243 kilos of cocaine into the UK on an empty passenger coach.
The National Crime Agency investigated Christopher Bullows and Mark Tucker after the coach was stopped at Dover Docks in September 2020. Bullows was driving the vehicle, and Tucker was his only passenger.
A search by Border Force uncovered the cocaine hidden in a specially constructed wastewater tank.
The drugs would have been worth around £19.4 million if sold on the streets of the UK.
Bullows, 50, of Lord Street, St Helens, told NCA investigators that he had taken the coach to Belgium so that the air conditioning system, which was under warranty there, could be repaired. He said that Tucker was a friend and had come along ‘for the jolly’.
Tucker, 53, of Longshaw Street, Blackburn, said he was a mechanic and had joined Bullows on the trip to check on the repairs.
But further enquiries showed that the air conditioning had been mended in the UK just months before the trip.
Bullows and Tucker were subsequently charged with attempting to import class A drugs. Both initially denied the charge but Bullows changed his plea to guilty at Canterbury Crown Court on 22 April.
Tucker was convicted by a jury today (11 May) following a five-day trial at the same court. He and Bullows will be sentenced on 21 May.
NCA Branch Commander Mark McCormack said: “The account given by Bullows and Tucker about their trip to Belgium was a pitiful attempt to disguise their criminality. This was nothing more than a cynical plot to bring a substantial amount of cocaine into the UK.
“Class A drugs are inextricably linked to violence and exploitation in our communities, and we will continue to work with our partners to target the organised crime groups involved.”
11 May 2021