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Elderly drug gang sentenced to jail for drugs haul after being caught plotting it in a café

The pensioners plotted to smuggle Class A drugs into the UK from Holland
Mark Youell, Alfred Rumbold and Brian Wright were caught plotting by undercover cops

Mark Youell, Alfred Rumbold and Brian Wright were caught plotting by undercover cops

Clodagh Meaney

An elderly drug gang has been jailed for plotting to smuggle £4.5 million worth of Class A drugs into the UK.

The three men conspired to import 55 kilos worth of narcotics and were foiled when police caught them planning it at a cafe in Kent.

The pensioners were found guilty of conspiring to import class A drugs at Isleworth Crown Court following a seven week trial which came to an end earlier this month.

On Friday, November 26th, the trio were given 12 and 14 years behind bars.

64-year-old Mark Youell from Essex, and 65-year-old Alfred Rumbold from Orpington each received 14 year sentences.

Their co-conspirator, 73-year-old Brian Wright from Kent, received a lesser sentence of 12 years in prison. He was given special consideration due to his ill health and old age.

The National Crime Agency used covert listening devices to catch the trio in a sting operation as they discussed plans to import 55kg of narcotics in a Kent café.

NCA officers listened in as the three pensioners debated border controls, coronavirus and expressed delight at the prospect of “hitting the jackpot” in the July operation.

The day before, Wright, who is the owner of a removals company, had successfully completed a mock run in which he took a lorry to the Netherlands.

The Rolls Royce loving motor enthusiast made a list of notes detailing security and border force details on his phone on the return journey.

The following week he collected the drugs that were stashed inside fish tanks and arrived in Utrecht.

The removal lorry which was raided as part of the sting operation (National Crime Agency/PA)

The removal lorry which was raided as part of the sting operation (National Crime Agency/PA)

However, the truck was raided just outside the city as part of a joint operation involving the NCA and Dutch law enforcement and Wright, who was sleeping inside, was arrested. Dutch police recovered 20.5 kilos of heroin, 32 kilos of cocaine and three kilos of MDMA.

An NCA spokesman said: “During the period of the conspiracy, the trio had a series of clandestine meetings with a Merseyside-based organised crime group who wanted to import class A drugs utilising Rolls Royce-driving Wright's legitimate removals company.

“At the same time NCA officers moved in on Youell and Rumbold, arresting them at their home addresses. Phones seized included a number of Encrochat and Sky ECC encrypted devices.

“The trade in Class A drugs feeds addiction and crime, exploits the vulnerable, wrecks and destroys lives, leads to misery and degradation and leads to early death,” Judge Giles Curtis-Raleigh in his sentencing remarks.

“This conspiracy involved a significant amount of drugs which were destined for the streets of the UK, where they would have been distributed by criminal gangs involved in violence and exploitation.

“Through the NCA’s covert investigation into their activities, we were able to prove the crime group stood to make huge profits for themselves.”

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