Three charged in alleged food delivery drug smuggling plot

By Emma O'Neill, PA Scotland
·1-min read

Three men have been charged in the UK and a warehouse has been raided in the Netherlands in connection with an alleged conspiracy to import cocaine through food deliveries.

Officers from the Organised Crime Partnership (OCP) – a joint National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police unit – arrested three men in co-ordinated dawn raids in Kent, London and the Glasgow area on Wednesday.

Thomas Payne, 47, from Hayes Road, Bromley, Kent; Ciaran Jones, 32, from Burns Road, Harlesden, London; and Mohammed Khan, 30, from Glenbervie Place, Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire, have all been charged with conspiracy to import class A drugs.

At the same time as their arrests, Dutch authorities raided a food warehouse in Reusel – a town near the Belgian border.

The three men were arrested during co-ordinated dawn raids (NCA/PA)
The three men were arrested during co-ordinated dawn raids (NCA/PA)

Officers were investigating an alleged plot to use food pallets to import drugs into the UK.

Police were alerted to the plans after analysing messages on EncroChat – an encrypted messaging platform that was shut down in June.

Payne and Jones appeared at Croydon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, while Khan faced Carlisle magistrates.

They were all remanded in custody.

OCP operations manager Matt McMillan said: “Following the analysis of EncroChat messages as part of Operation Venetic, we believe we have disrupted a criminal operation to import vast quantities of drugs into the UK.

“The trade in class A drugs fuels violence and exploitation, and this investigation is yet another example of the NCA and Met Police working together to protect the public.”