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Hunt is on for Port of Dover drug smuggler who absconded before trial where he was given 20 years in prison

A drug smuggler who has been given a 20 year prison sentence for attempting to smuggle about £1.8m of heroin through the Port of Dover is on the run.

David Birks, 42, was arrested by officers from the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) Border Policing Command in April 2014.

In the previous month, Border Force officers searched a rented flatbed truck and found holdall containing tape-wrapped packages of heroin under a seat.

David Birks, 42.
David Birks, 42.

The NCA showed that Birks had driven out to Belgium and met a Lithuanian national before loading the drugs into the cab in a black holdall, and then returned to the UK seperately.

Following his arrest at his home in Rotherham, Birks was charged with importing a class A drug, but before the trial had started he fled.

He was tried and found guilty in his absence by a jury at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday, October 23.

At the same court today, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The drugs found in the truck
The drugs found in the truck

Nick Tuffs from the NCA’s Dover border investigation team, said: “David Birks played a key role in an attempt to smuggle class A drugs worth almost £2m into the UK.

“There is no doubt that those drugs would have ended up on our streets.

“He then compounded this by failing to turn up for his trial.

“A warrant has been issued for his arrest and I’d appeal for anyone who has information about his whereabouts to get in contact with us.

'We are determined that he should be brought to justice – this is not going to blow over for him...' Nick Tuffs

“We are determined that he should be brought to justice – this is not going to blow over for him, he is not going to fall off our radar. Sooner or later he will have to serve his sentence.”

Paul Morgan, director of Border Force South East and Europe, said: “As this case demonstrates Border Force works closely with the National Crime Agency, and other law enforcement agencies both in the UK and overseas, in the fight against drug smuggling.

“Border Force officers use intelligence and the latest technologies to detect illegal drugs at the border and prevent them from ending up on UK streets.”

The Lithuanian driver of the truck was convicted for his involvement in the attempted importation in December 2014, but following a psychiatric evaluation he was given an absolute discharge by the court.

People with information can contact the NCA directly or call Crimestoppers anonymously on: 0800 555111.

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