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National Crime Agency

Drug-smuggling baggage handler switched labels on innocent passengers' suitcases

The airport worker – along with three others – was jailed for smuggling almost a million euro worth of drugs.

A GATWICK BAGGAGE handler has been jailed along with three others for smuggling almost a million euro worth of drugs into the UK.

David Fox, 65, of Stanley Avenue, Brighton and Stephen Chambers, 45, of Warmdene Road, Brighton attempted to smuggle 4kg of cocaine, which if cut and sold in the UK would have had a potential street value of over £500,000 (€692,000), into Gatwick Airport in September 2012.

Fox, a Gatwick baggage handler at the time, was using his access to the transfer shed area of the airport to remove drugs from suitcases and smuggle them out amongst his own belongings.

He also removed baggage labels from innocent peoples’ luggage to re-use them on luggage that contained drugs, according to the UK’s National Crime Agency.

When the rucksack containing the cocaine was sent to a different part of the airport, rather than the transfer shed, Fox was unable to retrieve it and it was seized by Border Force officers.


Both men pleaded guilty in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Fox had gone in to work on his day off in the hope of retrieving the drugs, and phone evidence showed the men had spoken the night before.

Incriminating baggage labels were found at Fox’s home address and in a container rented by Chambers in Sussex – to the south of London.

Stephen Chambers was also sentenced in relation to a separate offence in January 2013, in which he organised the importation of 46kg of cannabis into the UK, hidden in a container of fruit that originated in Ghana.

He was assisted by David Rowe, 53, of Overcliff Road, Lewisham, who used his contacts in Ghana to facilitate the importation.

The men were under surveillance by authorities when the drugs, which had a potential street value of almost £200,000 (€277,000), were intercepted by Border Force officers from a container at Tilbury Docks in Essex on 13 January 2013.

The container was released to Chambers, who was unaware that the drugs had been seized and had arranged for it to be delivered to Circus Street in Brighton on 28 January 2013.

NCA officers then watched Chambers and a third man, Gordon Wilkie, 40, of St. George’s Place, Brighton, unloading the container and discarding the fruit by the side of the road when they eventually realised there were no drugs inside.

men1 National Crime Agency National Crime Agency

Fox, Chambers and Rowe (left to right, in the photo above) were sentenced at Kingston Crown Court on 4 December to 4, 12, and 3.5  years respectively.

Wilkie (far right) was sentenced alongside them to 30 months in prison,

“These men thought they could operate under the law enforcement radar and profit from their criminal activities – like many before them, they were wrong,” Brendan Foreman, of the UK’s National Crime Agency said.

One of them cynically abused his trusted position as an airport worker to import large amounts of class A drugs.

Fox is currently serving a 10 year sentence for attempting to import 12kg of cocaine into Gatwick Airport in May 2013 and a further 5kg in June 2013.

He will serve his four year sentence consecutively and will therefore serve a total of 14 years in prison.

Read: Almost €1 million worth of cocaine, heroin and cannabis seized after raids in two counties >

Read: 680 arrests across UK in child abuse images crackdown >

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