Gatwick Airport: Drug kingpins jailed for cocaine smuggling
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Gatwick Airport: Drug kingpins jailed for cocaine smuggling

On Monday, Tyrone Gordon was sentenced to 26 years in prison and Ryan Steadman to 20 years at Woolwich Crown Court for a fraud involving the transport of cocaine in suitcases by couriers from Brazil via Madrid to the UK on Air Europa flights.

When the passengers arrived at Gatwick, they left without collecting their checked luggage so the gang could take the suitcase and smuggle it out of the airport.

The chain had links with corrupt baggage handlers who took luggage off airport premises without checking because they were airport employees.

Judge Christopher Grout estimated the gang was involved in the smuggling of more than 50kg of cocaine with a street value of up to £5.2m between February 2020 and November 2021.

Using Encrochat encrypted phones, they also tried to plan to import heroin through corrupt DHL couriers when the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted their cocaine program, but this never came to fruition.

They were found guilty last week after a nine-week trial on conspiracy to import cocaine and conspiracy to import heroin.

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Gordon, 40, from Crawley, was also convicted of possessing with intent to supply cocaine and offering to supply the drug.

Passing sentence, the judge said: “The plan was bold but effective, although not as successful as he would have liked.”

Gordon was at the top of the net and had contacts in South America, while Steadman, 39, from Lewisham, south-east London, was number two.

The judge found that Gordon had two Rolex watches and, he admitted, bought them with drug money.

A third man, Jack Williams, who has links to corrupt baggage handlers, previously admitted his role in the gang. The verdict will be delivered at a later date.

The judge told Gordon: “Class A drugs destroy lives, not just the lives of the people who use and deal them.

“The families of these people – your family – are also suffering.

“So does the wider community who have to live with the side effects of drug abuse, including drug-related crime – such as robberies and thefts – which are often committed by addicted users of such drugs to finance their habits.

“You are responsible for contributing significantly to this misery.”

Gordon was sentenced to 26 years in prison for conspiracy to import cocaine, with three other sentences to run concurrently: 26 years for conspiracy to import heroin, 14 years for possession with intent to supply cocaine and nine years for offering to supply cocaine .

Judge Grout told Steadman, a father-of-five: “It is clear that you were closely involved in arranging the buying and selling of Class A drugs on a commercial scale.

“I have concluded that your involvement in crimes of this magnitude on this scale could only have occurred in anticipation of significant financial gain.”

Steadman was sentenced to 20 years for conspiracy to import cocaine and 20 years for conspiracy to import heroin in order to carry out the business concurrently. Both men will serve half of their sentences behind bars before being released.