Fruit and veg pallets used to import drugs to U.K., court hears

U.K.: Criminals imported drugs worth millions hidden in fruit and veg pallets, court hears

An international drugs gang used a blizzard of bogus companies to import cocaine and heroin worth millions of pounds hidden in consignments of fruit and vegetables from the Netherlands, a court heard, according to Manchester Evening News.

The authorities found drugs with a street value of £40m when they intercepted four consignments destined for the north of England but investigators believe this was 'the tip of the iceberg' and that the alleged conspirators were behind more than 200 shipments, a jury was told.

It is alleged a company director from Widnes, Paul Green, 55, led the sophisticated operation and enjoyed holidays to Portugal, expensive cars and designer gear.

Andrew Thomas QC, opening the case for the Crown at Manchester Crown Court on Tuesday, told the jury the case concerned the importation of 'vast quantities' of drugs from continental Europe into the UK.

The drugs were hidden in pallets of vegetables, herbs and fruit juice 'shipped under the cover of bogus import-export businesses' using 'fronts' trading under the names such Pot Fresh, Blackpool Fruit and Veg, Europroduce, Irenka Foods, Wayfair Wholesale, HGG and Universal Wholesale, the jurors were told.

A firm called Pot Fresh, a name stolen from a legitimate company, began importing veg from Holland in September 2016 but one of the consignments, placed on pallets and shrink-wrapped, was handed to a Dutch haulier ready to be shipped to the UK, the court was told.

The goods were handed over by an Englishman who spoke fluent Dutch but the truck driver became suspicious and returned his cargo back to the depot where eight kilos of cocaine with a street value of almost £1m was found hidden in boxes of ginger, according to the prosecutor.

Photo: Manchester Evening News