A Lithuanian lorry driver has been found guilty of trying to import cocaine with a street value of £4.8 million following an investigation by the National Crime Agency.
Rimas Ekleris, aged 59, from Mirijampole, had attempted to enter the UK with 60kg of cocaine concealed inside his cab unit. He arrived at Immingham Dock on 19 August 2022, having travelled from Cuxhaven in Germany.
On arrival, Border Force officers, who were working with the NCA, searched his cab and discovered 60 kilos of cocaine in a hidden compartment beneath the floor.
NCA officers, who were working in conjunction with the Lithuanian authorities, obtained recordings of phone conversations that proved Ekleris had known about the packages, collected them from the supplier, and been instructed on how to open the concealment compartment.
Despite Ekleris maintaining his innocence throughout the trial, a jury at Grimsby Crown Court found him guilty today (Monday). He will be sentenced on 17 November at Hull Crown Court.
Carl Barrass, NCA Senior Investigating Officer, said:
“We were able to locate a significant quantity of class A drugs despite sophisticated attempts to hide it, and prove that Ekleris was in on the plot from the start.
“Seizing this amount of cocaine will have had a major impact on the organised crime groups involved, preventing them from making huge profits which would be re-invested in further criminality.
“Cases like this one prove that our continued collaboration with international and UK partners is instrumental in protecting the public from the global trade in illegal drugs.”
John-Jo Oldham, Deputy Director, Border Force said:
“Illegal drugs ruin lives and we are determined to crack down on the criminal gangs that are fuelling drug supply chains.
“Our Border Force officers at Port of Immingham were able to quickly identify suspicious activity at the border, and it’s thanks to their vigilance and collaborative work with the NCA that they were able to detect such a large amount of concealed drugs.
“Every seizure means less drugs on our streets, and our Border Force Officers continue to work relentlessly to keep the public safe and our borders secure.”
25 September 2023