Second member of “chicken run” drug network convicted

21 Mar 2017 11:39 AM

A second man was yesterday (Monday 20 March) jailed for being part of a family-run business which imported large quantities of MDMA and other controlled drugs from the Netherlands, hidden in loads of frozen chicken.

National Crime Agency officers arrested Gordon Ruckledge, 45, at his home in Taunton Road, Ashton-Under-Lyne, in September 2016.

As they searched his house and car investigators found more than a thousand ecstasy tablets, a kilo of high purity cocaine and approximately two thousand pills labelled as temazepam and tramadol, both class C drugs, as well as around £50,000 in cash and €14,000.

Officers also recovered dozens of mobile phones and specialist stamps used to add brand logos to tablets.

The investigation into Ruckledge followed the sentencing of his brother-in-law Christopher Still, from Morley in West Yorkshire, in June 2015.

Still was jailed for 12-and-a-half years in June 2015 after admitting playing a key role in the importation of around 90 kilos of MDMA (below right), found by Border Force officers at Killingholme port, hidden amongst pallets of frozen chicken.

.

NCA officers discovered that the same load of chicken had been used as a cover for at least seven other importations, which had been brokered by Ruckledge in the Netherlands.

After arresting Still, investigators raided a business unit in Leeds registered to Bayrose Trading, a company listed in Ruckledge’s name. They found another 30 kilos of amphetamine and a number of chemical cutting agents.

Meanwhile Dutch police watched Ruckledge meet with drugs supplier Raza Ali in Amsterdam. Ali was later arrested and jailed in the Netherlands, telling investigators that he had been supplying Ruckledge.

Ruckledge initially denied being involved in the importations, but on the first day of his trial at Leeds Crown Court he pleaded guilty to ten charges, including importing and possessing class A and B drugs and money laundering. He was sentenced to 16-and-a-half-years in prison the same day.

NCA senior investigating officer, Peter Frain, said:

“Gordon Ruckledge was involved in bringing substantial amounts of dangerous drugs into the UK. The sheer variety of drugs we seized when we raided his home demonstrated the criminal connections he was able to call upon.

“He was also personally involved in adulterating those drugs to increase his profits, and getting them onto the streets.

“This investigation has significantly disrupted organised crime networks in both the UK and Netherlands and successfully exposed the criminal exploitation of transport systems which pose a potentially much wider threat to the UK.”