Published: 15:56, 02 November 2020
| Updated: 18:04, 02 November 2020
A lorry driver has been jailed after he was caught trying to smuggle cocaine worth up to £1 million into the UK.
Cristian-Dan Balasoiu, 46, was dealt a seven and a half year prison sentence by a judge at Canterbury Crown Court for attempting to import 10 kilos of the Class A drug in to the Port of Dover.
The National Crime Agency investigation started on August 13 after Border Force officers at Dover found a red bag marked ‘DIRK’ inside the cab area of Balasoiu’s lorry.
Inside were 10 wrapped blocks of cocaine.
Romanian national Balasoui told NCA investigators he knew “absolutely nothing” about the drugs, if he had seen the bag he would have looked inside and called the police.
Later, after pleading guilty, Balasoiu told the court he was approached at Luxembourg and offered £1000 to take the drugs through UK border controls.
He said he needed the money as he had not worked for a number of months due to the coronavirus pandemic, and was struggling to pay bills for his family.
Daren Nicholls, Operations Manager at the NCA, said:“Importing illegal drugs is not a way to make quick money, it’s the route to a long prison sentence.
“By removing this amount of cocaine from the market, the NCA and Border Force have prevented it from ending up on UK streets, where class A drugs fuel violence and exploitation in our communities.
“We continue to work with partners to target and disrupt organised crime groups, and protect the public.”
Minister for Immigration Compliance and Courts Chris Philip said:“This was superb work by Border Force officers, whose actions prevented a dangerous cargo of drugs from reaching the UK’s streets.
“Class A drugs like cocaine shatter communities and we will continue to work with law enforcement partners like the NCA to ensure smugglers face justice."