Three men sentenced for using religious body to smuggle £2M of Cannabis into UK
The shipments were hidden in tins of Jamaican fruit.
Three men have been sentenced for using a religious organisation as a front to smuggle 400 kilograms of cannabis hidden in fruit tins into the UK.
Dalton Anderson, Alvin Russell and Sinclair Tucker used tins of callaloo and ackee fruit to hide the drugs, which would have had a street value of up to £2 million.
The trio used Birmingham-based Vision Christian Ministries (VCM) as a front to ship the cannabis from Jamaica to Birmingham Airport, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.
All three men were sentenced at Derby Crown Court on Monday.
Rick Mackenzie, NCA operations manager, said: “This crime group cynically used a religious organisation to conceal their multi-million-pound drugs conspiracy.
“The illegal drugs trade fuels violence and exploitation in the UK while generating huge profits for the serious criminals behind it.
“The NCA works tirelessly, including with partners like Border Force, to pursue the traffickers and protect the UK public.”
The cannabis was smuggled to the UK in three shipments between March and May 2017, all of which were addressed to the now-dissolved VCM.
All three were seized by Border Force, with the men arrested on May 23 2017 while inspecting the third consignment, which had been delivered to Birmingham Airport.
Anderson, 51, Russell, 46, and Tucker, 65, were found guilty at Birmingham Crown Court last November of fraudulently evading the prohibition on the importation of a controlled drug.
Judge Martin Hurst handed Anderson a nine-year prison sentence, as well as a concurrent five-year term for possession with intent to supply a class B drug after five kilos of cannabis were found at his home in Groveland Road, Tipton, West Midlands.
Russell, of Wood Lane, West Bromwich, was sentenced to five years in prison, with Tucker, also of Groveland Road, Tipton, given a two-year suspended term.
Paul Harper, of the Border Force Central Region, said: “Drugs are a plague to our neighbourhoods, exploiting the most vulnerable in our society.
“This seizure and others demonstrate the despicable lengths criminals will go to, exploiting a religion to line their own pockets, which will only cause harm to our communities.
“Thanks to this great work by Border Force officers at Birmingham Airport these drugs were stopped from infiltrating our communities, further highlighting our commitment to smashing the illegal drug trade and protecting our borders.
“Together with the NCA we will continue to tackle and break these disgraceful supply chains and go after those who seek to abuse our borders.”