Crime gang members jailed over cocaine plot

A crime gang caught trying to smuggle cocaine worth £10 million into Britain on a yacht were jailed today.

Customs men swooped just 15 miles off the Cornish coast as the smugglers prepared to complete a transatlantic crossing.



Southwark Crown Court heard the boat had been tracked after being bought in Trinidad and loaded with 200lbs of cocaine in South America.



Douglas Wood, 59, and David Coxon, 54, were arrested at the helm of the £24,500 vessel on September 12, 2008.



A Metropolitan Police spokesman said Wood, of Sandwich Bay, Kent, was jailed for 23 years and Coxon, of Middle Street, Newcastle, was jailed for 15 years.



Wood was found guilty of conspiracy to import 91 kilos of cocaine, while Coxon pleaded guilty to the same offence at an earlier hearing.



After several guilty verdicts were returned last December, police revealed other gang members were also involved in armed cash van robberies.



Investigators merged two separate inquiries which involved Flying Squad and organised crime teams.



Police said two men, Patrick Walsh and John Dunlop, were responsible for preparing to rob a series of cash vans in Hertfordshire.



But during a surveillance operation, officers discovered Walsh wanted to smuggle cocaine into Britain on the yacht.



He made repeated trips to Trinidad, Tobago, Barbados and Grenada using the false name of Michael Sheridan. On some occasions he was joined by Wood.



Wood and Coxon eventually set sail from Grenada, falsely telling customs they were heading to Brazil. Instead they picked up the drugs in Guyana and headed to Britain.



Meanwhile, the other gang members were in Britain preparing for a cash van heist in Barking, east London.



On August 21, 2008, they were caught red-handed by armed police carrying two pistols and ammunition.



A week later Walsh was caught carrying a handgun, gloves and a balaclava at a Total petrol station in Denham, Hertfordshire.



The police spokesman added that Walsh, 48, of Blairhead Drive, Watford, was jailed for 21 years today. Walsh admitted importing cocaine, possessing a handgun and conspiracy to commit robbery.



Dunlop, 52, of St Leonards-on-Sea, was jailed for eight years at an earlier hearing after being found guilty of possessing two guns and ammunition.



He was jailed for 15 years, to run concurrently, today after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent