Two men have been jailed for over 10 years for bringing Class A drugs valued at almost £7m into Staffordshire.
Dave Van de Ven and Barry Briggs were sentenced at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court today, Friday.
Van de Ven, aged 30, from Rotterdam, was jailed for six years and eight months. He had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to two counts of being concerned in the importation of heroin and cocaine.
Briggs, aged 43, from Seaforth Grove in Leeds, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the importation of heroin ahead of a trial starting. He was sentenced to five years.
The men were arrested on Wednesday 11 February when officers stopped two vehicles on the A52 in Cheadle.
A search of the two vehicles, a HGV being driven by Van de Ven and a Renault van being driven by Briggs, led to the discovery of Class A drugs valued at almost £7m.
Staffordshire Police, together with the National Crime Agency, carried out a joint investigation after receiving information about the two men and their suspected involvement in drug supply.
The arrests were carried out under Operation Nemesis – the force’s commitment to tackling drug dealers and bringing them to justice.
The court heard Van de Ven, who was employed by a transport company in Holland, collected his trailer on February 10 with deliveries scheduled for several locations in England.
He arrived in England the following day, Wednesday 11 February, via ferry and continued his journey, not stopping until he reached a lay-by on the A50, in north Staffordshire.
Van de Ven was later observed at in Leek Road, Cheadle, where he met up with Briggs, who was driving a Renault Clio van and both were witnessed removing boxes from the rear of the lorry into the Renault Clio.
Both men were arrested a short time later.
A search of the van led to the recovery of the two boxes. Each box contained 15 individual packages of heroin, weighing around 1kg each. The drugs have since been valued at £5,750,000. (5 and ¾ million)
Van de Ven’s trailer was also searched. A box was recovered which contained 10 parcels of cocaine, each weighing 1kg each. These drugs are valued at £1.2million.
DI Lesley Fowler, who oversaw the investigation, said: “This was a significant seizure of class A drugs – the biggest Staffordshire Police has ever seized in one operation.
“Working closely with our colleagues at the National Crime Agency, we were able to stop a substantial amount of drugs entering the streets of Staffordshire.
“Today’s sentences are to be welcomed and send out a strong message – we will not tolerate drug dealing in our communities and will take positive action against those who do.
“On this occasion we had information which subsequently led to the arrest of both Van de Ven and Briggs.
“These men were clearly working together to bring drugs in to England for onward distribution.
“Their partnership was uncovered and we have stopped drugs getting onto our streets.
“Today marks yet another success under Operation Nemesis and further demonstrates that drug dealing and drugs misuse will not be tolerated in Staffordshire.”
Brent Lyon from the National Crime Agency said: “This was a substantial amount of heroin – the largest seizure of Class A drugs ever made in the area.
“Van de Ven and Briggs clearly thought they were operating under the radar with this handover. But there are no hiding places, no safe locations, for those who try to bring drugs into our communities.
“Operations like this one are successful because of the close working relationship the NCA has with forces like Staffordshire.”