National Crime Agency
Up to no gouda: two men who used gone off cheese to hide cannabis are jailed
Two Dutch men who smuggled vast quantities of cannabis from the Netherlands into the UK have been jailed following a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.
Henrik Ruben, 28, and Dominic Leeman, 30, helped to import more than half a tonne of cannabis in two consignments of grated pizza cheese and salad toppings shipped to two warehouses in Slough, Berkshire.
The drugs, which had an estimated street value of £5m, were intercepted at Dover Docks by Border Force officers on 16 June 2016 and 5 April 2016.
Today (31 October 2019), at Maidstone Crown Court, Ruben, of Dieren, was jailed for six years after a jury convicted him of conspiring to import drugs.
Leeman, of Arnhem, was also found guilty of the same charge and sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail.
They were part of a wider organised crime group, and operated two units on the Slough Industrial Estate where the cannabis would be unpacked. The cheese would then be repackaged and shipped back to the Netherlands to be used again.
The pair imported the drugs through a company called Bertus Foods, also known as Global Foods, which was set up as a front for drug smuggling. Ruben was in charge of making necessary travel arrangements, and Leeman was key to organising the food ‘carousel’ of sending produce back and forth.
The duo used encrypted phones to communicate, but NCA investigators were able to access messages between them. The investigation revealed the pair discussed arrangements for transportation of the cannabis to clients.
In one text, the damning question “do I have to put the old cheese in those boxes the product is delivered in?” was exchanged between the organised crime group.
Ruben’s phone had photos of herbal cannabis and cannabis resin on it, as well as pictures of a forklift being used to load and unload pallets of white boxes from an HGV.
Martin Grace, Branch Commander at the NCA, said:
“This is a significant disruption of an organised crime network who were intent on bringing illegal drugs into the UK.
“The pair thought they could fool us by disguising cannabis in food shipments and giving fabricated stories to border officials. But we are ready and have tools in place to disrupt drug supply and distribution.
“The cannabis had a street value of more than £5million, which no doubt would have funded further criminality on our streets. We take all importations of illegal drugs seriously. Drug smugglers perpetuate serious violence which spreads throughout supply chains and puts innocent members of the public at risk.
“Today’s sentencing marks the end of a long investigation, in which we worked closely with Border Force officers. We will continue to work with Border Force to disrupt criminals and protect the UK from harm.”
Nick Drinkal, Director of Border Force South East and Europe, said:
“Border Force’s seizures took a substantial quantity of cannabis off the streets and out of the hands of those who seek to profit from illegal drugs.
“Border Force will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, both at home and abroad, to tackle drug smuggling and put the criminals responsible for these crimes behind bars.”
Latest News from
National Crime Agency
Jailed – the pharma boss who ran ‘world’s biggest’ anabolic steroid distribution network14/11/2019 15:15:15
The head of an international pharmaceutical firm has been jailed for heading up what is believed to be the world’s biggest ever illegal anabolic steroid distribution network.
Truck driver charged after cocaine found in frozen meat load13/11/2019 09:15:00
The National Crime Agency have charged a truck driver with attempting to import class A drugs after cocaine likely to be worth more than £20 million was seized at Harwich.
Gun smuggler with 60 firearms in car jailed for nine years12/11/2019 13:15:00
A man has been jailed for nine years after admitting smuggling 60 guns into the country in his car, as part of a National Crime Agency investigation.
Woman admits live-streaming child sexual abuse11/11/2019 14:15:00
woman has admitted four child sexual abuse charges including live-streaming footage of herself sexually abusing a young girl over almost three years.
NCA investigation launched after migrants found on yacht11/11/2019 11:15:00
National Crime Agency officers have charged a 64-year-old man with facilitating illegal entry to the UK after discovering eight illegal migrants on a yacht.
Coventry man jailed for possessing firearm08/11/2019 12:15:00
A construction worker has been sentenced to five years in jail after being caught carrying a firearm in his backpack while on his way to work.
Drug dealers and dancer jailed for cocaine smuggling06/11/2019 11:15:00
Two drug dealers have been jailed for smuggling cocaine worth £38k into the UK alongside the dancer acting as their drugs mule.
NCA secures multi-million pound asset portfolio after proceeds of crime investigation05/11/2019 16:15:00
Property worth up to £8.1 million have been recovered by the NCA following a civil recovery and tax investigation.