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Two UK men were busted for smuggling more than $300,000 worth of cocaine from the Caribbean to London in baked beans and condensed coconut milk cans, authorities said.
Daniel Kelly and Steven Gilhooly sent the drugs in packaging “disguised as containing tinned goods,” from St. Lucia to southeast London in December 2018, London’s Metropolitan Police announced Thursday in a press release. A joint investigation by the London police and the UK’s National Crime Agency prompted an inspection of the packages and authorities found roughly $341,875 worth of cocaine.
On Dec. 16, 2018, Kelly and Gilhooly flew from London to St Lucia, where they told customs officials that they were entering the country for a vacation and that they brought with them a can sealer in their luggage.
The two men traveled to the Caribbean island nation “with the sole purpose,” of smuggling drugs back to the UK, and had prior to their trip bought a machine can sealer and blank tin lids so they could reseal the condensed coconut milk and beans cans, law enforcement authorities concluded.
Kelly, 43, was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for fraudulent evasion of a prohibition on the importation of a Class A drug and Gilhooly, also 43, sentenced to eight and a half years in prison for the same crime, police said.
The couple of crooks were sentenced on Wednesday at Snaresbook Crown Court.
“This should send a clear and strong message to those intent on penetrating our borders that offences of this nature are taken very seriously and we will leave no stone unturned in bringing them to justice,” Detective Inspector Matthew Webb of the Metropolitan Police Specialist Crime teams said in a statement.
“The miserable effect that drug supply has on our communities is undeniable and inextricably linked to violence within our communities,” he added. “I hope this provides them the opportunity to reflect on their behaviour and demonstrates that crime doesn’t pay.”
“These men thought they could circumvent the UK’s border controls by utilizing the fast parcel system, but this is a threat we and our law enforcement partners like Border Force and the MPS are alive to,” said National Crime Agency Branch Commander Mark McCormack in the press release. “Working with them we were able to stop this plot in its tracks, arrest and prosecute those involved, and prevent these drugs [from] being sold for criminal profit.”