Page last updated at 18:46 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Jail for 3m bacon drug smuggler

Darren Hunter
The heroin imported had a street value of 3m

A Merseyside man who admitted trying to smuggle 63kg of heroin into the country through a consignment of "dodgy" bacon has been jailed for 13 years.

Darren Hunter, of Kew Road, Southport, masterminded the plot to import heroin with a street value of £3m, Canterbury Crown Court heard.

His accomplice Philip Tasker was caught when 126 packages of bacon, found in his van, tested positive for heroin.

Tasker, of Saunders Street, Southport, was jailed for 18 years for his part.

Tasker, 43, was found guilty of importing class A drugs and sentenced on 1 October following a trial.

The court heard he was arrested in Dover by UK Border Agency officers while returning from Belgium with the van full of bacon, but denied all knowledge of the drugs.

Philip Tasker
Forensic tests showed 24kg of the consignment were at 100% purity

Forensic tests showed 24kg of the consignment were at 100% purity.

After testing the packs of meat, officers were led to Hunter, who was arrested at his home on 13 January.

Hunter, who has two previous convictions for drug smuggling offences, pleaded guilty at Canterbury Crown Court in March.

Malcolm Bragg, assistant director of criminal investigations at HM Revenue & Customs, said: "This attempt to disguise heroin as a load of bacon didn't fool detection officers and investigators, who once again showed their determination to bring criminals to justice.

"This dangerous Class A drug devastates lives and communities, as it is always linked to wider criminality."

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