A man has been jailed for 20 years for smuggling cocaine – including a load hidden in a shipment of children’s toys – into the UK.
Chris Michaelides, 52, was sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court on Friday for his role in the international drug-smuggling operation, the Metropolitan Police said.
Michaelides, from Essex, was arrested following a cross-agency operation which dismantled an encrypted communications system.
Messages from Michaelides revealed he was also in contact with an international network of co-conspirators in Holland and the Czech Republic.
His conversations indicated that he had been part of the criminal enterprise for six years, the Met said.
He helped concoct one plot which involved loading children’s bricks with 50kg of cocaine into a lorry for import into the UK.
But the plan was foiled as authorities intercepted the vehicle.
Despite this, the criminals launched a similar operation in June to import 37kg of cocaine.
Michaelides was arrested on July 1 and charged with conspiracy to evade the prohibition on the importation of controlled drugs and conspiracy to supply a controlled drug.
He was also charged with possession of a number of illegal items, including a fraudulently obtained passport and a prohibited weapon.
Detective Lee Byne said: “Thanks to great partnership working, the evidence we were able to gather against Michaelides was so overwhelming that he had no choice but to plead guilty to the charges laid against him.
“Michaelides played an instrumental part in this criminal network, which had been importing huge quantities of class A drugs – hidden in innocent shipments, including children’s toys – for many years.
“The drugs he helped to import to the UK over those years no doubt devastated many lives and communities.
“The firearms and weapons we found at Michaelides’ house once again demonstrates the undeniable link between drugs and violence.
“This is why disrupting all routes of drug supply continues to be central to our work to tackle violence on London’s streets.”