Mark Youell, 64, from Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, conspired along with Alfred Rumbold, aged 65, from Orpington, Kent, and removal driver Brian Wright, 73, from Folkestone, Kent, to import around 55 kilos of class A drugs across spring and summer 2020.Trio in question facing forward.
During the period of the conspiracy, the trio had a series of clandestine meetings with a Merseyside-based organised crime group who wanted to import class A drugs utilising Rolls Royce-driving Wright’s legitimate removals company.
Covert listening devices deployed by the NCA picked up a conversation at a meeting at a café in Kent in July 2020 where they were heard discussing border controls. Youell told Rumbold and Wright: “We’re gonna hit the jackpot” and that they were going to make “f***ing mega dough”.
The following week Wright made the run for real, collecting the drugs, which had been sealed inside fish tanks.
The drugs were seized from their hiding place, with Dutch police recovering 20.5 kilos of heroin, 32 kilos of cocaine and three kilos of MDMA. NCA experts say the haul would have had a UK street value of around £4.5 million.
Encrochat messages attributed to Rumbold by the NCA as part of Operation Venetic – the UK law enforcement response to the takedown of the platform – showed that he was discussing with numerous criminals the potential to move drugs across Europe using Wright’s firm.
Wright, following his extradition from the Netherlands, denied any knowledge of the drugs, claiming he was just transporting furniture.
NCA Regional Head of Investigations Peter Stevens said:
“This investigation also shows the benefit of international co-operation when it comes to stopping drug supply, which is a priority for the NCA. I’m grateful for the support of our Dutch partners in securing these convictions.”