Published: 16:27, 28 November 2017 |
Updated: 16:39, 28 November 2017
A Belgian pilot who threw barrels loaded with £2.5million worth of cocaine out of a circling aeroplane has been jailed.
Rudi Sels, 65, piloted a light aircraft from Belgium before dropping the Class A drugs stuffed into barrels wrapped in black duct tape over an airfield near Faversham last June.
Waiting on the ground were Jonathan Hart, 61, Michael Mealing, 42, and Andrew Barrett, 42, who used a map to plan landing and drop-off sites for the packages.
But the gang was being watched by detectives from the National Crime Agency.
Hart, Barrett and Mealing admitted their parts in the operation and were jailed for a total of 38 years in January.
The packets of cocaine had a purity of between 62 and 84%, and Sels was to be paid 500 euros per kilo - which would have earned him about 16,000 euros or £14,500.
He was arrested on October 20 this year at his home in Balen, near Antwerp in Belgium and extradited to the UK on October 31.
At the Old Bailey today Sels admitted conspiracy to import Class A drugs, and was jailed for 14 years.
Judge Mark Dennis told Sels: "You plainly played a central role in the importation of 31 kilos of cocaine.
"This was a sophisticated, carefully planned importation on a commercial scale" - Judge Mark Dennis
"This was a very sophisticated importation, carried out with obviously considerable planning and care, and also carried out swiftly and very efficiently from the point of view of the drug traffickers.
"This would have been a wholly successful importation releasing in truth far more than 31kg of powder, given the purity and the street level cutting that takes place.
"And doing so for considerable gain for the drug traffickers involved. The estimated street value is somewhere around £2.5million."
He added: "There was an expectation of substantial financial gain for you, as would be on the face of it inevitable given the nature of your contribution to this importation.
"You should be regarded as having a leading role.
"It's very sad to read your character references, which speak so well of you otherwise, and obviously harm done to those people, in particular immediate family.
"This was a sophisticated, carefully planned importation on a commercial scale."
Detectives from the National Crime Agency watched as they saw Sels fly low over one of the sites, an airfield near Faversham.
Every morning at 10am we play you an hour of tunes from the 90s. We call it, #WeLoveThe90s.
Play 'Say It' with Garry and Laura on kmfm Breakfast and you could win £1,000!
Wake up to kmfm Breakfast with Garry and Laura - it's Kent's alarm call.
Your No1 guide to getting married in Kent. From dresses to discos and venues to veils, we've got everything you could possibly need for your big day
Education, Training & Childcare is a special supplement published by KM Media Group four times a year. Click here for latest e-edition.
A guide for your future. For year 11 students in Kent and Medway. Click here for the e-edition.
Get the latest food and drink news, recipes from some of the nation's top chefs plus updates from Kent's vineyards and breweries.
Search in your local area to find your perfect partner in Kent, with FreshStart Dating!
PLUS, register for free!.
Read our pick of the best holiday destinations. Whether its a weekend break, or something a little bit longer, we have reviewed a wide range of holidays.