A wheelchair-using grandmother was the mastermind behind an
international drug-trafficking gang, a court has heard.
Eileen Cresswell sent drug mules to Jamaica, the court heard.
Eileen Cresswell, 63, of Chequers Road, Gloucester, organised couriers to travel to the West Indies and bring back cocaine in their shoes, Bristol Crown Court was told.
The gang allegedly conspired to smuggle a substantial amount of the class A drug into the UK.
Ms Cresswell was wheeled into court for the first day of the trial on Tuesday.
She is accused of conspiring with more than six people to import
cocaine between 1 April 1997, and 21 March 1998, and denies the charge.
Prosecuter, David Bartlett, said Ms Cresswell, who has connections with Jamaica, organised couriers to fly out to the island where they were met.
Once on the island, the "mules" would have their shoes adapted and would be
given quantities of drugs to carry back to the UK, the court heard.
Mr Bartlett said Ms Cresswell would book the couriers' flights at Gloucester
travel agents and drive them to the airport in her blue Sierra.
The prosecution cited a series of five trips to the West Indies between April
1997 and March 1998, which they allege were organised by Ms Cresswell.
They went on to name the other members of the gang as: Shaun Webb, formerly of Claremont Road, Gloucester, Kathleen Turner, formerly of the same address, Lee Cooper, formerly of Melbourne Street East, Gloucester; Brian Stubbs, formerly of Columbia Close, Gloucester; and James Barrett, formerly of Slade Close, Oxford.
They have all been found guilty or pleaded guilty to their
involvement in the plot.
Ms Cresswell disappeared in 1998 while on bail in connection with the plot and went on to suffer a heart attack.
In March 2002 she gave herself up to police.
She was remanded in custody on Tuesday at her own request and the trial was adjourned until Wednesday.