Alex Guest, 40 of Boleyn Way, Ilford, was sentenced to 11 years and three months’ imprisonment at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Tuesday, 30 March.
He pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply Class A drugs (cocaine) and possession of criminal property at the same court on 30 June 2020.
On Monday, 20 April 2020 at about 7.20pm officers from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, supported by officers from the ANPR Interceptor Units, stopped a van on the M11 southbound, near the junction with the A406, in Redbridge, as part of an intelligence-led operation targeting the supply of Class A drugs.
Officers searched the van and found an elaborate hide. The hidden compartment was concealed within a partition wall of the van and was operated by hydraulic arms, behind locksmith cutting equipment, to disguise its presence.
Within the hide, officers found a holdall containing in excess of 15 kilos of cocaine, worth about £1.5million. A number of mobile phones were found inside the van along with a set of electronic scales and a sophisticated encrypted communications device – known as EncroChat.
The driver, Guest, was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs (cocaine).
Detectives carried out a search at Guest’s home address and recovered more than £129,000 in cash.
Officers also searched an address linked to Guest where they recovered two hydraulic press machines.
He was further arrested on suspicion of possession of criminal property.
During his police interview, Guest answered no comment to all the questions put to him.
He was subsequently charged on Tuesday, 21 April 2020 and was convicted as above.
Detective Constable Russell McIntyre, the investigating officer from Specialist Crime, said:
“Guest was part of an organised network importing large amounts of cocaine into the UK, almost routinely. Using his legitimate locksmith business as cover, he thought he could conceal his involvement by using an elaborate hide – he failed.
“This investigation is an example of great team work which led to us taking a huge quantity of harmful Class A drugs off the streets of London.
“Drugs blight communities and ruin lives and we will continue to robustly target those responsible for bringing them into the capital.”