Drug dealers used modified Bentley to smuggle cocaine into Britain, court hears

Telegraph Reporters
The gang modified the roof of the £130,000 Bentley Flying Spur to stash drugs and more than £100,000 in cash - PA

Drug dealers used a modified Bentley with a secret compartment to smuggle £3.6million of cocaine into Britain, a court heard.

The gang modified the roof of the £130,000 Bentley Flying Spur to stash drugs and more than £100,000 in cash.

Florentino Gonzalez, 48, Eduia Abazi, 31, and Bajram Elezi, 34, hid more than 30 kilograms of cocaine in the plush car which had modifications made so the illicit drugs could be stored.

Florentino Gonzalez, a drug trafficker who used a Bentley with a secret roof space to smuggle millions of pounds worth of cocaine into the UK Credit:  NCA/PA Wire

Gonzalez, who claimed to be visiting Britain to set up a wine firm and a cafe, used an underground car park at the luxury Marlin Apartments in Southwark, south London, to meet dealers and exchange the smuggled drugs for cash.

The plush car was seized by police investigating the drugs gang who discovered more than 30 kilos of cocaine in two days of surveillance.

It is thought the illicit cargo was last in a long line of drugs already smuggled from Europe and distributed to dealers around the capital by the gang.

They travelled between 25 to 30 times over a two year period, but could have been running the conspiracy for as much as four years.

The secret roof space used to smuggle millions of pounds worth of cocaine into the UK Credit: NCA/PA Wire

Gonzalez travelled from his home in Belgium, parked up his Bentley at the Britannia International Hotel in the Isle of Dogs and met with Armand Cuni, 39, and Abazi on September 5 last year.

Elezi, Gonzalez and Abazi were found guilty last month following a five week trial at Blackfriars Crown Court.

Gonzalez, of Spanish origin but living in Belgium, was also found guilty of concealing criminal property, with Elezi guilty of possession with intent to supply class A drugs. Byberi was arrested near his home in Bedford, and on December 18 2016 he pleaded guilty along with Cuni and Cera to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Cera also admitted two counts of possession with intent to supply cocaine and having an ID document with improper intention, which related to a false Romanian passport under the name of "Bogdan".

The drugs seized Credit: NCA/PA Wire 

Heather Strangoe, prosecuting, said: "This was a well sophisticated process whereby imported cocaine was distributed to the driver or their courier in return for cash payments and using apartments for the purpose of the exchanges."

Jailing the gang, Recorder Christopher Sallon said: "This is a long running conspiracy and a sophisticated commercial operation to distribute very large qualities of cocaine ranging from 88 to 93 per cent purity.

"Large qualities of this drug was sources from South America and smuggled height Europe via France and Belgium to the U.K, professionally concealed in luxury cars."

Main conspirator Gonzalez, slammed by the judge for his "untruthful" testimony to the jury, was jailed for 24 years.

Armand Cuni, Edwin Abazi, Saimir Byberi, Yelton Cera and Bajram Elezi, co-conspirators of Florentino Gonzalez Credit: NCA/PA Wire

Fellow leader Cuni, of Brussels, was jailed for 22 years. Abazi, of Hillingdon, west London was jailed for 21 years and Byberi was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Cera was jailed for six year for one count and six years to run concurrently, plus 18 months for having an ID document to run consecutively, making total of 12 years.

Elezi of Epsom, Surrey, was jailed for eight years.