Dutch 'smugglers drove fake ambulance rammed to roof with cocaine and heroin'


Arrogant Dutch smugglers drove a fake ambulance into the UK "rammed" to the roof with more than £38 million of cocaine and heroin, a court has heard.

Leonardus Bijlsma and Dennis Vogelaar were part of an "organised criminal gang" who attempted to sneak "a massive haul of drugs" under the noses of British police, according to prosecutors.

A Birmingham Crown Court jury was today told the two were part of a four-man team equipped with bogus paramedic uniforms and a letter purporting to be from a Dutch patient being taken to a London hospital for treatment.

Robert Davies, prosecuting, said that inside the back of the ambulance, concealed behind metal-riveted panels in "hides", were neatly stacked packets of class A drugs including £60,000 of ecstasy tablets.

But also concealed in the compartments, in colour-coded parcels, was 193kg of "top quality" cocaine with a street value of more than £30 million, and 74kg of heroin worth £8 million in deals.

Mr Davies, opening the case for the Crown, described it as "an absolutely enormous amount of class A drugs".

He added: "In truth the ambulance was rammed with drugs."

Mr Davies also told the jury of seven women and five men that the fake ambulance journeys had been "going on over weeks and months".

The ambulance was seized by officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) who arrested Bijlsma, Vogelaar and two other men when the group met up in Smethwick in the West Midlands on June 16.

Both men were later charged with conspiracy to smuggle class A drugs into the UK, between April 2014 and summer this year.

Bijlsma, 55, and of Hoofddorp, and 28-year-old Vogelaar, of Vijfhuizen, deny the offences.

Mr Davies told the jurors: "If you had been on the road on June 16 this year you may have seen in your rear view mirror an ambulance.

"It would have caught your attention for that reason but also perhaps for another reason, for it was a Dutch ambulance.

"It was taken into the UK via Harwich on the east coast of England the night before, and it was driven to the Smethwick area by mid-morning on June 16.

"The driver was Dennis Vogelaar."

He added Mr Vogelaar had a male passenger with him.

The two were allegedly met in Smethwick by two men, one of whom was Bijlsma, who it is claimed drove across via the Channel Tunnel in a Mercedes.

"The ambulance men got out and walked up to Mr Bijlsma, and they all shook hands."

The very moment they did so, officers from the NCA swooped on the four, Mr Davies explained.

Mr Davies told jurors they would study "highly incriminating" evidence implicating both men, including a rivet gun found with Mr Bijlsma's DNA on it which the prosecution have claimed was used to fasten the false panels inside the ambulance.

Within the cab of the fake emergency vehicle was a set of instructions, in Dutch, for the driver.

Inside the boot of the Mercedes was a list, again in the men's native Dutch language, "which directly correlated to that (coloured) tape; the cocaine, the heroin".

Mr Davies alleged that this was in fact "a new list" after the British customs officers confiscated an original version they had found while searching the car as it passed into the UK.

"We say it (the list) is a re-write," he said.

The prosecution counsel added: "They carried on, some might say arrogantly.

"By the time they got to the meeting in Smethwick, the list was re-written, and they were good to go again."

The trial, expected to last two weeks, continues.