Florist jailed for smuggling £23.5m worth of cocaine in flower boxes


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The Independent Online

A florist owner who tried to smuggle cocaine worth £23.5 million into the country in boxes of flowers has been jailed for 18 years.

Gary Pattison, 52, hid the drugs in a lorry load of chrysanthemums and was today found guilty at Sheffield Crown Court of importing cocaine.

He owned Sharon Pattison's Florists and a haulage company called Sharon Pattison Logistics, and tried to smuggle 84kg of the drug, which was 97% pure, into the country from the Netherlands.

Pattison, from Hull, travelled to Rotterdam in his own lorry in February to collect the consignment, and was caught by border officers on his return two days later.

The lorry contained 89 boxes of flowers, but three looked different, and when X-rayed officers found they contained kilo blocks of cocaine.

Gerry Smyth from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) said: "Pattison acted as a shipping agent for organised crime groups by arranging for a large quantity of high purity cocaine to be smuggled into the country.

"Anyone who assists criminals in this way is a target for Soca. If you come on to our radar we will pursue you relentlessly, track you down, and put you behind bars. Not only has Pattison lost his freedom, he now faces being stripped of his illicit profits."