A six-strong gang led by a Nottinghamshire man has been jailed for a total of almost 100 years for smuggling class A drugs into the UK using a fleet of fake ambulances.
Most of the gang members worked as couriers for 57-year-old James Gibson, of Cinder Lane, Ollerton, a drug dealer with connections to criminals in Holland.
The drugs were hidden in secret compartments sealed with riveted panels inside Dutch ambulances entering the UK by ferry ports.
Investigators believe there were at least 45 trips involving cocaine, heroin and ecstasy with a street value of £1.6billion.
Rob Lewin, the NCA’s head of specialist operations, said: “This was a very sophisticated, complex, organised crime group.”
An NCA spokesman said: “Gibson had a leading role in distributing class A drugs to organised crime groups across the UK using trusted, willing and well-paid couriers.
“He was responsible for directing a number of trusted couriers to meet the ambulances at various locations across the country and has been identified as the head of this particular distribution network.”
Gibson was sentenced to 20 years for his part in the scheme when he appeared at Birmington Crown Court on Monday.
It comes after after three Dutch nationals were jailed for their part in the same operation last year.