Two deny pounds 15m cocaine plot

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PERUVIAN cocaine with a street value of more than pounds 15m was smuggled into Britain hidden in sacks of roasted coffee beans, an Old Bailey jury was told yesterday.

The cargo was shipped into Liverpool in April last year in a container on board a ship called the Andes, Seddon Cripps, for the prosecution, said. Customs officers opened the container and X-rayed the 420 coffee sacks - revealing that 48 of them contained packages of cocaine. Officers resealed the container and allowed it to continue its journey to a warehouse in Acton, west London, where it was received by Americo Espejo, 29, a Peruvian, the court was told.

Mr Cripps told the jury that a camera and tape recorder had been hidden in the warehouse, and Customs officers watched as Mr Espejo - who was joined by Jesus Caruz, 41, a fellow Peruvian - began opening the sacks and removing the 97 packages of high- quality cocaine.

Both men deny smuggling the drug. The trial continues today.