A Croston man has begun a 22-year prison sentence for his part in a plot to smuggle £90m of cocaine into Britain.
Anthony Short, 40, was found guilty at Liverpool Crown Court of conspiracy to import more than 400 kilos of the drug hidden in a cargo of Argentinian beef.
Short, of Westhead Road, was one of five men jailed for a total of 54 years for a crime which Judge Alan Conrad QC described as “thoroughly evil.”
The court heard he had been high up in the drug gang and organised the shipment of meat using a bogus company and a false identity. The judge said he was satisfied the haul was intended to be the first in a series of importations using this method.
He told Short: “You were in this in order to make very considerable profit – the outlay and organisation involved were considerable.”
Ian Stanton, 43, from Liverpool – named as Merseyside’s most wanted man when he fled to Holland to evade capture – got 12 years. James Mossman, 37, of Kirkby, received seven years four months, Gary Keating, 29, and Francis Oakford, 47, both of Stockbridge Village, Merseyside, were given eight years and four years nine months respectively. All four admitted conspiracy.
The court was told the haul was discovered during a routine search of a metal container at Tilbury Docks in London in May last year. The consignment had been destined for cold storage at Wigan. Short had travelled twice to Holland to set up the cargo which, if sold on the streets at 10 per cent purity, could have generated around £140m.
Greg McKenna, branch commander of the National Crime Agency, said: “This amount of cocaine could have caused devastating damage had the crime group succeeded. They were willing to use extreme violence but as a result of close working with our national and international partners their plan failed.”