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Cruise passenger jailed for cocaine smuggling bid

A 23-year-old cruise liner passenger was jailed for seven years today after admitting trying to smuggle cocaine worth more than £300,000 into the UK, according to the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

Ben Hartland, of Bletchingley, Surrey, was arrested by UKBA officers as he disembarked from the Black Watch at Southampton, Hampshire, on November 19 last year.

He was found to be carrying 3.3lb (1.5kg) of cocaine with an estimated street value of £343,200 concealed in the lining of a rucksack.

Hartland pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to a charge of importing cocaine.

Sentencing Hartland at Southampton Crown Court today, Judge John McNaught said: "Your early plea stands to your credit but this is a very serious matter. Enormous sums of money are involved and enormous misery is caused by this drug."

Dave Smith, UKBA assistant director south, said: "Drugs like cocaine devastate lives and communities and this sentence is a strong warning to anyone who believes drug smuggling is acceptable.

"UK Border Agency officers operate maximum vigilance at all our ports and airports to prevent drugs reaching our streets."