Published: 06:00, 19 February 2020
| Updated: 09:37, 20 February 2020
A trucker who was bound for Kent when he was found with nearly £1.4 million of high purity cocaine hidden underneath his bed says he had no idea it was there.
Yuriy Vasilev’s cabin was searched in the UK control zone of the Channel Tunnel terminal at Coquelles when Border Force officers unveiled 17 vacuum packed wraps of the Class A drug.
The 50-year-old denies any knowledge of the contraband and faces a drug smuggling charge at Canterbury Crown Court this week.
The court heard a Border Force officer pulled over Vasilev’s Bulgarian-registered vehicle at around 6.45pm on July 14 last year.
X-Ray scans revealed a suspicious void underneath a mattress inside the cabin, prosecutors said.
When another officer pulled back a wooden board - attached with 15 fake screws - £1.36m of the Class A drug was revealed inside a six-inch deep compartment.
Arrested and interviewed at Canterbury Police Station, Vasilev, with the aid of an interpreter, would claim he bought the cab in Holland near Rotterdam for 40,000 Euros a year and a half before.
He told NCA officers he had picked up 24 pallets of paper in Dussledorf, Germany, and has then travelled into Holland and through Belgium.
He added he took breaks driving through Belgium but locked the cab each time he left.
When officers asked if he had any knowledge of the drugs Vasilev replied: “No."
With the suspect remanded in custody, National Crime Agency officers probed the vehicle as the drugs were analysed.
Asked in court about the void inside the cabin, the officer Catherine Couchman said: “Within the concealment area there were three batons, the long screws went into the concealment area, the other screws were for cosmetic reasons.”
The jury heard the assortment of shrink-wrapped packages stamped with logos of an apple, shark and the letters ‘zzz’ contained purities of 85%, 83% and 61%.
Meanwhile Ms Couchman’s investigation revealed the lorry belonged to Trans EOODM LTD, a freight firm owned by Vasilev registered in Pernik, Bulgaria.
Vasilev, of Westbury Avenue in North London and represented by Gordon Ross, denies importation of a Class A controlled drug.
His case is yet to be heard.
More by this authorSean Axtell