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Raspberry sorbet pallet in Nottinghamshire warehouse contained millions of pounds of Class A drugs

Millions of pounds worth of imported Class A drugs were found hidden inside a pallet load of raspberry sorbet in a Nottinghamshire warehouse.

The mammoth haul – containing 39 kilogrammes of cocaine and 18kg of heroin – had been unloaded and stored at a frozen food warehouse unit in Bilsthorpe, Nottinghamshire.

The consignment – believed to be the biggest drugs seizure in Nottinghamshire for many years – was stowed in a lorry trailer after 26 pallets of frozen yoghurt ice cream had been collected from a factory in Wellens, Belgium.

From there, the load was moved on to the town Hook of Holland, before being shipped to the UK on 10 August 2017.

The lorry was followed by Border Force officers after it left the Port of Immingham, on the east coast of England, the following day. They remained in convoy with the vehicle as it arrived in Bilsthorpe.

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When police searched the unloaded consignment, on 14 August 2017, they found a concealed compartment in one of the pallets which contained the drugs.

Following a detailed investigation, a number of suspects were subsequently arrested, interviewed, and charged in connection with the massive drug seizure.

Five people went on to be convicted of offences.

John Brown, aged 54, collected a lorry from Ashbourne, Derbyshire, on 8 August 2017, and set off on a journey to Europe.

Two days later he arrived at a factory in Wellens, Belgium, where pallets of frozen ice cream were collected for their return journey to the UK.

The vehicle booking for Brown to travel from Holland on 10 August 2017 was made by 69-year-old William Morritt – director of a company which specialises in temperature-controlled transport.

John Madden, aged 51, was also identified as being involved in the operation. Analysis of phone records showed contact between the group members.

John Brown, of Lawn Avenue, Woodlands, Doncaster, pleaded guilty to conspiring to fraudulently evade a prohibition on the importation of a Class A drug and conspiring to conceal criminal property.

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Brown was sentenced to 15 years in prison when he appeared at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday 8 December.

William Morritt, of Poplar Crescent, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, was found guilty following a jury trial of conspiring to fraudulently evade a prohibition on the importation of a Class A drug.

Morritt was locked up for 18 years when he also appeared at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday.

John Madden, of Hall Lane, Kirkby, Knowsley, Merseyside, pleaded guilty to conspiring to fraudulently evade a prohibition on the importation of a Class A drug.

He was jailed for 21 years when he appeared at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday.

His parents, Bernard Madden, aged 72, of Hall Lane, Kirkby, Knowsley, Merseyside, and Marian Madden, aged 70, of Weaver Avenue, Kirkby, Knowsley, Merseyside, pleaded guilty to money laundering for their son. They were not involved in the importation.

They were each given a two-year sentence, suspended for two years.

Detective Inspector Mark Adas, of the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), said:

“This complex investigation has resulted in the seizure of a very substantial haul of Class A drugs before they had the chance to reaching the streets and cause significant harm.

“Drugs fuel violent crime and other exploitative criminal activities and we will continue to work with our partners to protect our communities, combat such criminality and target those involved.”

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