A Lithuanian lorry driver has been sentenced to 14 years in prison after attempting to import cocaine worth £4.8 million into the UK.
Rimas Ekleris, aged 59, had 60kg of the drug hidden in his cab unit when he arrived at Immingham Dock on 19 August 2022, having travelled from Cuxhaven in Germany.
Acting on intelligence provided by the National Crime Agency, Border Force officers searched the vehicle and discovered the cocaine in a purpose-built concealment beneath the floor.
NCA investigators, working in conjunction with the Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau, 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 secret compartment.
Ekleris was found guilty by a jury at Grimsby Crown Court on Monday 25 September 2023. He was sentenced at the same court yesterday (Thursday 4 January 2024) to 14 years in prison.
The wider organised crime group is subject to ongoing investigation in Lithuania, which is being supported by the National Crime Agency.
Carl Barrass, NCA Senior Investigating Officer, said:
“Despite maintaining his innocence throughout the trial, Rimas Ekleris was found guilty and now faces several years behind bars.
“Work by NCA officers, and by our partners at Border Force, was instrumental in not only detecting the sophisticated concealment, but proving that he was in on the plot from the start.
“Class A drugs ruin lives, and we are determined to prevent individuals like Ekleris from fuelling drug supply chains, causing untold harm to communities up and down the country.”
Danny Hewitt, Director, Border Force said:
“Our Border Force officers played a pivotal role in detecting and seizing millions of pounds worth of cocaine which ensured that this dangerous criminal was arrested and brought to justice.
“We remain committed to stopping dangerous drugs from entering the country. Our Border Force officers continue to work relentlessly to keep the public safe and our borders secure.”
5 January 2024