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Dutch lorry driver Hendrick Vriezen jailed

The Channel Tunnel from above
The Channel Tunnel from above

A Dutch lorry driver who tried to smuggle more than £3million of drugs into the UK through the Channel Tunnel has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Hendrick Vriezen was said to have played a "vital and significant" role in the plot to bring cannabis, amphetamine and methadrone into the country.

The 41-year-old was stopped at the UK control zone in Coquelles just before midnight on November 15 last year.

Customs officers were suspicious because he was up to 30 hours early for the delivery time of his legitimate cargo of sports equipment.

A search of the trailer then revealed the three drugs hidden in cardboard boxes.

Maidstone Crown Court heard the packages containing methadrone were cellophane-wrapped to the legal cargo, while the boxes containing cannabis and amphetamine were loaded with sand to disguise their true weight.

Vriezen, from Zelhem, Holland, admitted three offences of drug smuggling in relation to 240kg of methadrone, 3.95kg of cannabis resin and 9.71g of amphetamine. Methadrone is also known as m-cat or miaow.

Prosecutor Heidi Stonecliffe said the total street value was between £2.4million and £3.26million.

She said Vriezen was a trusted member of the chain. "It was a vital role. Without his complicity and knowledge the drugs wouldn't have got to their destination," she added.

"He took a significant role and would have had some understanding of the operation."

Jailing Vriezen, Judge Martin Joy told him that under new government guidelines his sentence was not as severe as those handed out in the past.

But he added:"It has to be understood that those who bring drugs into this country or involve themselves in any way in the business of drugs commit a very serious offence and the court has to maintain a consistent message that they will be severely punished.

"It is a deeply degrading habit and undermines the good order of society."

Vriezen will serve half his sentence less 121 days spent in custody on remand.

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