Lorry driver nabbed smuggling £3.3m of high-purity cocaine into Scotland as cops intercepted EncroChat…
A LORRY driver was nabbed smuggling almost GBP3.5million worth of high-purity cocaine into Scotland. Cops busted Robert Stewart, 54, at Hamilton Services, Lanarkshire after tailing his HGV almost 400 miles from upmarket Kensington in London.
A lorry driver smuggled GBP3.3m of cocaine into ScotlandCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The trucker, of Elderslie, Renfrewshire, admitted supplying drugs at the High Court in Edinburgh. He was snared during cops’ blitz on encrypted phone network EncroChat last May.
Prosecutors revealed 65kg –with a street value of GBP3.35m — were found stashed in two suitcases in his lorry. Advocate Depute Richard Goddard told the court a search of Stewart’s HGV revealed 65 blocks of cocaine, which experts said had a purity of between 74 and 80 per cent.
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Details of the Police Scotland and Met force surveillance op were also revealed. Cops watched Stewart, who is also known as Robert Clifford, pick-up two “heavy loaded” suitcases from two men in Kensington, London at around 7pm on May 27 before driving to a service stop in Buckinghamshire.
After spending the night there, Stewart then made his way north the following day. Police continued to track him until he stopped at motorway services at Hamilton where he was arrested. Mr Goddard said the HGV was “taken away for examination” and the blocks “of similar appearance” were discovered hidden inside.
He added that Stewart made “no reply” when he was arrested.
Police previously told how the seizure was linked to Operation Venetic, which saw cops seize GBP25million of drugs in Scotland alone. Across the UK, police and the National Crime Agency arrested 746 people, seized GBP54million cash, 77 firearms and two tonnes of drugs. Judge Lady Poole told Stewart: “You have pled guilty and I formally convicted you of the charge.” She ordered reports to be carried out ahead of sentencing.
Last month, we told how two drug couriers who smuggled GBP6million of cocaine into Scotland were each jailed for 10 years. David Murdoch, 56, and Graham McCulloch, 39, were blasted by a judge after swapping their “ordinary lives” for narcotics and organised crime.
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The pair were nabbed as they moved the coke across the border in the secret compartment of a Mercedes Citan van. Cops swooped on the A74 near Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, last May 19 after tailing them from London. The bust — just 10 days before Stewart was caught — was also triggered by the hack of the EncroChat phone network.
Stewart was remanded in custody ahead of sentencing next month.
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