Gatwick Airport baggage handler jailed for smuggling drugs

A baggage handler at Gatwick Airport has been jailed with three others for smuggling drugs worth a total of £700,000 into the country.

David Fox, of Stanley Avenue, Brighton, East Sussex, would use his work privileges to access the transfer shed of the airport to remove the drugs from suitcases and smuggle them out amongst his own belongings.

He would also remove baggage labels from normal travellers' luggage to reuse them on baggage that contained drugs, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

The 65-year-old, who was assisted by Stephen Chambers, 45, of Warmdene Road, Brighton, was caught out when a rucksack containing 4kg of cocaine was sent to a different part of the airport and he was unable to retrieve it.

The drugs worth £500,000 were seized by Border Force officers in the incident in September 2012.

An NCA spokesman said: "Both men pleaded guilty in the face of overwhelming evidence. Fox had gone into work on his day off in the hope of retrieving the drugs, and phone evidence showed the men had spoken the night before. Incriminating baggage labels were found at the home address of Fox and in a container rented by Chambers in Lancing, Sussex."

Fox, who is currently serving a 10-year sentence for attempting to import 12kg of cocaine into Gatwick Airport in May 2013 and 5kg in June 2013, was sentenced at Kingston Crown Court to a further four years to be served consecutively.

Chambers was also sentenced in relation to a separate offence in January 2013, in which he organised the importation of 46kg of cannabis into the UK, hidden in a container of fruit that originated in Ghana.

He was assisted by David Rowe, 53, of Overcliff Road, Lewisham, who used his contacts in Ghana to facilitate the importation, and Gordon Wilkie, 40, of St George's Place, Brighton, who was caught unloading the container.

Chambers was sentenced to 12 years in prison, Rowe to three-and-a-half years and Wilkie to 30 months.

Brendan Foreman, the NCA's regional head of investigations, said: "These men thought they could operate under the law enforcement radar and profit from their criminal activities - like many before them, they were wrong.

"One of them cynically abused his trusted position as an airport worker to import large amounts of class A drugs."

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