Geraldo Luis Jhonson Garcias, 31, and Vianelis Fermin-Pena, 22, were arrested in Portugal last year and were jailed last week
Two British people have been jailed for attempting to smuggle £2 million worth of cocaine into the UK from a Caribbean cruise ship.
Geraldo Luis Jhonson Garcias, 31, and Vianelis Fermin-Pena, 22, who are both from Nottingham, were among the 13 people who were convicted of trying to get the drugs into the United Kingdom on a cruise ship from the Caribbean.
This comes after new local restrictions are being introduced throughout northeast England, which includes curfews for pubs and a ban on people mixing with others outside their household, Matt Hancock, the UK’s Health Secretary, is set to confirm the new restrictions in a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on Thursday morning.
The cruise ship, MSC Opera, docked in Funchal in Madeira, in March of 2019, where police had uncovered the drug smuggling operation, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Sixteen kilograms of the Class A drug cocaine, that were believed to have had a street value of £2 million, was found sewn inside the insides of suitcases and bags and concealed inside bowls that were found split between a van and the hotel room that the drug smugglers were staying in.
The plan of the cocaine smugglers was to fly the drugs back into the UK, as well as other countries throughout mainland Europe, according to the crime agency.
NCA officers, as well as Portuguese police, arrested four of the gang in a joint operation after they got off the MSC Opera cruise ship, which led the authorities to nine other criminals.
Jhonson Garcias, who is believed to be one of the ringleaders of the drug smuggling plot, was sentenced to eight years in jail.
Dutch national Esteban Antonio Mercedes Espinal, who is aged 54 and was living in south London at the time, was also given an eight year sentence.
Fermin-Pena was handed a sentence of six years in prison, while the 22-year-old Colombian national Stephany Garcia Escallon, who was also living in south London at the time of the criminal plot, got a four year suspended prison sentence.
This comes after local lockdown measures are being imposed in the Welsh county of Rhondda Cynon Taf following a rise in cases of COVID-19 in the region. A cluster of cases in the Welsh county has been traced back to a rugby club’s trip to horse races, which “stopped off at a series of pubs on the way”
NCA operations manager Allan Round said: “We believe the end destination for a good proportion of these drugs would have been the UK, but through our close working with our partners in Portugal we were able to stop this crime group in their tracks.”
“They might have thought that by using a more unusual routing for their drugs they would make things difficult for us.”
“But this international operation demonstrates that the NCA has the ability to tackle drug trafficking at every step along the route, in source countries, in transit countries, at the UK border and on our own streets.”