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Irish lorry driver jailed for smuggling cocaine worth €567k disguised as frozen potatoes

Officers discovered eight kilos of cocaine in the baggage and a locker.

Bryan Anthony Hughes (NCA/PA)

Niall Donald

A lorry driver who was caught smuggling £480,000 (€567k) worth of cocaine into the UK while delivering frozen potatoes has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years.

Bryan Anthony Hughes (30), with an address in Ballymena, Co Antrim, was arrested after being stopped at the UK in bound border last October 16.

Hughes told police that he was travelling to the UK after picking up a load of frozen potatoes in Tilburg in the Netherlands.

However, when his cab was searched, officers discovered eight kilos of cocaine in the baggage and a locker.

The drugs were estimated to have had a street value of £480,000 (€567k).

The National Crime Agency (NCA) then began an investigation into Hughes.

Drugs found on the lorry (NCA/PA)

The 30-year-old made no comment when he was interviewed by officers, but the NCA said he later pleaded guilty to importing a Class A drug at Canterbury Crown Court on December 2.

He was sentenced this week at the same court.

Mark Howes, NCA branch commander, said: "This quantity of cocaine would generate significant revenue on UK streets, so this seizure will cause a dent in the profits of the organised crime group it was destined for.

"Criminal groups use smugglers like Hughes to bring their drugs into the UK and our message to anyone tempted to try and make what they may consider easy money through smuggling is that you will be caught.

"We work closely with our partners, including Border Force, to stop the flow of illicit drugs into the UK and will continue to prosecute those involved."

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