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Drug smuggling trio plotted to transport cocaine, heroin and MDMA through Kent


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A drug smuggling trio tried using a removal company to run £4.5 million of drugs into the UK totally unaware they were being followed by covert officers tracking their every move.

The three men working with an organised crime group based on Merseyside were recorded having a meeting at a cafe in Kent to import 55kg of Class A drugs last year.

Wright, Rumbold and Youell were recorded by undercover officers

Rolls Royce driving Brian Wright, 73, of Blenheim Place, Folkestone offered to use his legitimate removals company as a front to hide huge quantities of drugs from The Netherlands.

But Wright and his co-conspirators Mark Youell, 64, of Shoreham Road, Clacton-on-Sea in Essex and 65-year-old Alfred Rumbold, of Mosyer Drive, Orpington were already under investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Officers managed to obtain a covert recording of the meeting held at the cafe in July 2020 when they discussed trying to sneak through border security.

In the recording, Youell is heard telling his fellow plotters: "We're gonna hit the jackpot."

The three men were caught holding a meeting at a cafe in Kent in February 2020 to discuss border security and how to get the drugs into the UK for an organised crime group based on Merseyside. Picture: NCA
The three men were caught holding a meeting at a cafe in Kent in February 2020 to discuss border security and how to get the drugs into the UK for an organised crime group based on Merseyside. Picture: NCA
The drugs were stashed inside fish tanks inside Wright's lorry when it was stopped by Dutch police. Picture: NCA
The drugs were stashed inside fish tanks inside Wright's lorry when it was stopped by Dutch police. Picture: NCA
The removals truck used by Wright on the trip to the Netherlands where he was arrested. Picture: NCA
The removals truck used by Wright on the trip to the Netherlands where he was arrested. Picture: NCA

Just a day before, Wright had carried out a test run across the Channel carrying out reconnaissance and taking notes of border checks and security on his phone.

The following week, he made the drugs run for real, picking up the drugs which had been stashed inside fish tanks.

But the NCA and Dutch police were watching and the truck was raided near Utrecht and found Wright sleeping inside. He was arrested at the scene.

Brian Wright, from Folkestone was caught trying to import £4.5m of class A drugs using Wright's removals business after an undercover National Crime Agency operation tracked their every move. Picture: NCA
Brian Wright, from Folkestone was caught trying to import £4.5m of class A drugs using Wright's removals business after an undercover National Crime Agency operation tracked their every move. Picture: NCA
Alfred Rumbold, from Orpington was caught trying to import £4.5m of class A drugs using Wright's removals business after an undercover National Crime Agency operation tracked their every move. Picture: NCA
Alfred Rumbold, from Orpington was caught trying to import £4.5m of class A drugs using Wright's removals business after an undercover National Crime Agency operation tracked their every move. Picture: NCA
Mark Youell, from Clacton-on-Sea in Essex was caught trying to import £4.5m of class A drugs using Wright's removals business after an undercover National Crime Agency operation tracked their every move. Picture: NCA
Mark Youell, from Clacton-on-Sea in Essex was caught trying to import £4.5m of class A drugs using Wright's removals business after an undercover National Crime Agency operation tracked their every move. Picture: NCA

More than 20kg of heroin, 32kg of cocaine and three kilograms of MDMA were found inside by the Dutch authorities with an estimated street value of £4.5m in the UK.

Youell and Rumbold were arrested at their home addresses at the same time as the raid on Wright's lorry with phones seized including several encrypted devices on the Encrochat and Sky ECC networks.

Messages sent by Rumbold were found showing he had discussed moving drugs across Europe with several gangs through the removals business.

In interview, Rumbold and Youell denied drug importation charges, claiming they were trying to smuggle alcohol, cigarettes, tobacco and cannabis.

After his extradition back to the UK, Wright denied any knowledge of the drugs and said he was only transporting furniture.

But after a lengthy seven-week trial at Isleworth Crown Court in London, a jury found all three men guilty of conspiring to import Class A drugs.

Drug smuggling trio Brian Wright, from Folkestone, Alfred Rumbold, from Orpington and Mark Youell, from Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, were caught trying to import £4.5m of class A drugs using Wright's removals business after an undercover National Crime Agency operation tracked their every move. Picture: NCA
Drug smuggling trio Brian Wright, from Folkestone, Alfred Rumbold, from Orpington and Mark Youell, from Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, were caught trying to import £4.5m of class A drugs using Wright's removals business after an undercover National Crime Agency operation tracked their every move. Picture: NCA
Brian Wright's Rolls Royce was seized by officers after their drug smuggling ring was busted by National Crime Agency officers. Picture: NCA
Brian Wright's Rolls Royce was seized by officers after their drug smuggling ring was busted by National Crime Agency officers. Picture: NCA

They face sentencing next Friday at the same court.

Speaking after the convictions, NCA regional head of investigations, Peter Stevens said: “This conspiracy involved a significant amount of drugs which were destined for the streets of the UK, where they would have been distributed by criminal gangs involved in violence and exploitation.

"Through the NCA’s covert investigation into their activities we were able to prove the crime group stood to make huge profits for themselves.

"This investigation also shows the benefit of international co-operation when it comes to stopping drug supply, which is a priority for the NCA. I’m grateful for the support of our Dutch partners in securing these convictions."

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

For information on how we can report on court proceedings, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Folkestone

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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