Published: 14:33, 30 May 2019
| Updated: 14:33, 30 May 2019
Drug mule sisters who tried smuggling kilos of cocaine into Kent - for an £850 payoff - have been jailed.
Dana and Larissa Janmaat, 24 and 27 respectively, were stopped by Border Force when the contraband was discovered in packets of sweets.
The traffickers from Nieuw Vennep in Holland were coaxed into a "criminal world completely unknown to them," by an unnamed individual, a court heard.
For a paltry €1,000 pay-off, the smuggling sisters were convinced to carry the 2.5 kilograms of cocaine from Coquelles into Folkestone through the Channel Tunnel.
Judge James O'Mahony dubbed the girls "tragic" before scalding them for winding up "deep in crime".
“Here you both are in custody far from home and your loved ones, I’m sure heart-broken and full of remorse.
“You are intelligent young people, with your whole lives ahead of you, so it is of course a tragedy," he said.
“The other side of the coin, is on the streets of Thanet and streets around the world the trade in Class A drugs brings misery, serious illness, and of course criminal activity.
“This is not your world.
“But you have put yourselves in that world, deep in crime, and the stakes are high.”
They were sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court today, where ex-catering manager Dana and ex-McDonald’s worker Larissa cried in the dock as the case summary was read.
The court heard an unnamed drug dealer convinced the sisters to smuggle £87,500 worth of cocaine in sealed sweet packet bags of 'Serenata de Amor' and tea containers. Its street value was £200,000.
The pair were travelling from Amsterdam to London by coach, they claimed for a two-day shopping trip, and they had booked a hotel in central London for the weekend.
However, Border Force officials snared them in Coquelles bound for Kent on April 12 and notified the National Crime Agency (NCA).
The sisters were asked to retrieve their bags from the coach. When asked by an officer about the amount of sweets they were carrying, Dana replied: “I like sweets”.
The officer noticed the iced tea packet was solid and sweets were very hard.
The sweets were cut open and were found to be full of white powder.
The bag of iced tea was also full of white powder.
Both tested positive for cocaine.
In interviews with NCA officers, Larissa claimed to have purchased the sweets at a shop in Amsterdam, and initially denied knowing they contained drugs.
However, both sisters pleaded guilty to importing cocaine at a hearing earlier this month and were remanded in custody.
Prosecutor Alec Williams said the cocaine, which was split evenly between the sisters, was 72 per cent pure.
Mitigating, Jonas Milner argued they resorted to smuggling after falling into financial trouble.
They agreed to a €1,000 pay-off when the drugs hit London.
It means both traffickers would have received just £440 each for carrying the cocaine from their home city Amsterdam.
“It is a world completely unknown to them. Today obviously represents a day of shame, more than that, a day of terror.
“They were flabbergasted when I told them the sentence they could face - they had no idea how serious the offence was,” Mr Milner said.
He told the court the sisters’ mother will be held responsible for paying the debt.
Judge O'Mahony jailed the women, of previous good character, for six years each and ordered destruction of the drugs.
NCA branch commander Matt Rivers said: “Organised crime groups rely on smugglers like the Janmaat sisters to do their dirty work and bring cocaine into the UK.
"There is no doubt Larissa and Dana knew what they were doing.
“Let us be clear, anyone who brings drugs into the UK is a link in the chain of organised crime.
"Importations like this can fuel county lines-type exploitation that we see causing so much harm in our communities.
"This is why we are determined to do all we can to break that chain.”
Paul Morgan, director of Border Force South East and Europe, said: “This large detection has kept a substantial amount of illegal drugs off the streets, where they can do so much damage to individuals and communities and out of the hands of those who seek to profit from this trade.
“Border Force officers do excellent work at ports across the UK to secure our borders and work closely with other law enforcement agencies, like the National Crime Agency (NCA), to prevent drug trafficking.”
More by this authorSean Axtell