A drug kingpin who smuggled cocaine worth £5m in a children's jigsaw puzzle has been jailed for 15 years.
Raheem Bailey, 44, headed a criminal network which smuggled large quantities of cocaine to the UK from the Caribbean, hidden in children's presents, in the lining of a handbag, and by using secret compartments in suitcases. Seven associates have already been sentenced to a total of 82 years in jail for their part in the conspiracy and an eighth person received a suspended sentence.
The Met Police say Bailey arranged for drugs to be imported from the Caribbean to the UK, via Belgium and Holland, between April and July last year. In April 2014, one of Bailey's accomplices tried to import 8kg of cocaine into the United Kingdom by concealed it in a laptop bag and a jigsaw puzzle box, which was wrapped in children's gift paper.
Howell was carrying a brand new bag that was particularly heavy, and when officers unstitched the lining, they found two packages of cocaine. She was also carrying a waterproof box and a gift-wrapped jigsaw puzzle box crammed with more cocaine. Following this and other failed attempts to smuggle drugs, Bailey began importing the drugs directly from the Caribbean but again the police thwarted his activities though a series of coordinated raids.
When officers arrested Bailey on July 3 2014 a search of his property in Sydenham, south London, uncovered a drugs lab set up in the kitchen. They recovered 451g of crack cocaine, 1kg of cannabis, a currency converter and approximately £81,000 in cash.
Detective Constable Mike Stonehouse from the Met's Central Task Force said: "This joint operation was lengthy and complex. It has prevented millions of pounds-worth of illegal drugs flooding UK streets, spreading misery in our communities.
"An international and highly organised crime group has also been put behind bars. This illustrates our determination to catch the people at the top of these criminal networks."
By Taku Dzimwasha - International Business Times/May 22, 2015