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Last Updated: Friday, 28 March 2008, 13:39 GMT

Drugs sisters jailed for 39 years

From left, Manon and Jacqueline Merceij
Manon, left, and Jacqueline Merceij had denied the charges

Two sisters have been jailed for 39 years between them for attempting to smuggle heroin worth more than 5m into the UK through an Essex port.

Jacqueline Brigitte Merceij, 40, and Manon Merceij, 46, were caught with 114 kilos of the drug on 25 June 2007.

Jacquline, of Oudenbosch, Holland, was jailed for 21 years and Manon, of Geervliet, Holland, was jailed for 18 years.

They denied importing the drug but were convicted at Chelmsford Crown Court.

During the trial in February, the court heard that customs officers at the Port of Harwich stopped a white van that had arrived on a ferry from the Hook of Holland.

The vehicle was driven by Jacqueline Merceij, accompanied by her sister, the court was told.

Drugs recovered
The drugs were found hidden among furniture in the van

Officers found the drugs hidden among furniture in the back of the van.

Judge Christopher Ball said: "It has ruined your lives and those of your families.

"I had to stop and think of the consequences had you succeeded in your scheme.

"Drugs are evil and the penalties have to be great to deter others."



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