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Gang used fake ambulances to smuggle heroin and cocaine worth €2.3 BILLION into UK

The elaborate 14-month scheme involved bogus “patients” and fake paramedic costumes.

ambulancedrugs Drugs hidden in a compartment of one of the gang's fake ambulances. National Crime Agency National Crime Agency

AN ENGLISH COURT today convicted a Dutchman of conspiring to smuggle drugs with a street value of £1.6 billion (€2.3 billion) into the UK, in a fleet of fake ambulances.

The gang also used bogus paramedic uniforms to drive ambulances packed with drugs across the Channel, with at least 45 trips identified over a 14-month period, the court heard.

hmc_0024 copy National Crime Agency National Crime Agency

The gang also invented bogus “patients”, in an attempt to add credibility to the scheme, the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) said in a statement.

One ambulance vehicle found by British police in June contained 193 kilos (426 pounds) of cocaine, 74 kilos of heroin and 60,000 ecstasy tablets hidden in seven compartments behind metal plates.

Drugs from inside ambulance seized in the UK pic 1 National Crime Agency National Crime Agency

Prosecutor Robert Davies said the police tipped off Dutch authorities, who found “a fleet” of similarly adapted ambulances at two yards in the Netherlands.

It is estimated the operation may have seen £420 million (€596 million) in high-purity drugs into Britain with a street value four times that amount, prosecutors said.

rpc_6757 National Crime Agency National Crime Agency

The man convicted at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday was 55-year-old Leonardus Bijlsma.

Two other Dutchmen, Olof Schoon and Richard Engelsbel, had already admitted the charges.

PastedImage-89799 (L-R) Olaf Schoon, Richard Engelsbel, Leonardus Bijlsma. Flickr / NCA Flickr / NCA / NCA

All three will be sentenced next week.

Rob Lewin, from the NCA, reacted to the convictions:

There will be some very frustrated high-level criminals out there who, given the size of their orders, will have lost a lot of money.

- © AFP 2015

Read: €1.6 million worth of heroin, cocaine and cannabis seized after car is stopped>

Read: The strange tale of the scuba diver and the underwater drug tunnel>

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