Gang posing as furniture removal firm smuggled £135m of drugs into UK

Drugs that were seized
Drugs that were seized
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A gang which smuggled tonnes of drugs, including cocaine, heroin, and ketamine , into the UK worth more than £135million posing as a furniture removal firm have been jailed. A Manchester man involved in the operation has been jailed for 27-years.

The gang’s leader, Jonathan Arnold, boasted about his wealth by posting to social media showing him wearing a Rolex watch and driving a Ferrari while on holiday in Dubai. The 30-year-old gave the impression he ran a legitimate small furniture moving firm with a turnover of more than £50,000 a month.

Arnold used the money from smuggling more than two-tonnes of the drugs into the UK to fund a lavish lifestyle. This included spending tens of thousands on cosmetic surgery and dental work.

The gang would hide drugs in their shipments by using dummy loads of furniture to hide packages in lorries and vans. Some of these had hidden compartments to conceal the shipments.

The gang’s downfall began in January 2022, when one of their couriers made a drug run to Europe in a Real Estate Removals van. His van was searched by French Customs’ officers who found 63 blocks of cocaine weighing 71kg along with 99 bags of ketamine weighing 101kg. The drugs had a UK wholesale value of £2,561,900.

A police investigation had been launched at this point linking this courier to the gang and they were arrested by Border Force on their return. The biggest single seizure came in April last year, when the gang tried to bring 1,477kg of cocaine with a street value of around £118million into Portsmouth.

The drugs were found hidden among bananas and were seized by Dutch police officers on a ship which had travelled from Colombia to Vlissingen. In June last year, Connor Fletcher, one of the gang’s drivers, travelled to a town near Amsterdam for an overnight trip and returned with 60kg of cocaine hidden in two secret compartments built into the floor of the lorry.

Arnold, of Sutton Coldfield, in the West Midlands, admitted four charges of conspiracy to import and supply drugs. He was jailed on Friday (July 28) for 23-and-a-half years at Birmingham Crown Court.

The gang’s supervisor James Jenkins, 25, of Tamworth, Staffordshire, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and was jailed for 15 years. Fletcher, 25, of Wolverhampton, was found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine and was jailed for 12 years.

Humayan Sadiq, 43, of Manchester, was also convicted of conspiracy to import cocaine and was jailed for 27 years.

Judge Heidi Kubik KC told the gang: “You played a sophisticated, commercial drugs trafficking operation in which you conspired to import large quantities of class A drugs into this country for onward distribution and supply. I need not rehearse the untold misery that these drugs would cause to drug addicts and their families. His [Arnold] furniture removal business as a cover to transport drugs into the country from abroad.”


Anthony Davis, defending Arnold, said: “He was a very hard-working individual. He ran a business which was successful for a period of time and he would reward himself with holidays. That is when he became involved with others more sophisticated than himself. He was like a lamb to the slaughter.”

Detective chief superintendent Jenny Skyrme, head of the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “We can’t underestimate the scale and significance of this criminal organisation. This is the biggest drugs case that we have ever dealt with as an organisation. The gang was operating at the highest levels of criminality, bringing in industrial quantities of drugs to sell on the streets of the West Midlands and beyond.”

Two other defendants Jack Bishop, 31, and Ryan Hatton, 27, were found not guilty of drugs charges.


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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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