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2 NRI men jailed for 34 years in UK for drug smuggling


Los Angeles, Sep 08, 2023 A.Gary Singh

Two men, whose conspiracy to smuggle drugs and cigarettes into the UK was foiled after a farmer accidentally spotted a consignment of cocaine, have been handed lengthy prison sentences today.

The scheme involved the pair using their freight company as a cover to clear shipping containers that held drugs and cigarettes and diverting them from their intended destination to a warehouse they controlled. There they would be offloaded by organised crime groups.

Following a 71-day trial at Isleworth Crown Court, Varun Bhardwaj and Anand Tripathi were both sentenced to 19 years and 15 years respectively after being found guilty of importing cocaine, cannabis and cigarettes into the UK hidden in shipments of perishable goods.

The imported class A and B drugs had a street value of £28.9million. Bhardwaj, from Hounslow, was handed an additional two-year sentence, which will run concurrently, for possession of 1kg of cannabis, with a street value over £10,000, and the failure to disclose a PIN for one of his mobile phones.

The court heard that in total the men imported 272.86 kilograms of cocaine and 2,503.36 kilograms of cannabis across four shipments between September 2021 and November 2022. One shipment contained just over two tonnes of cannabis hidden amongst yams from Ghana. Another containing 49 kilograms of cocaine was concealed with oranges from South Africa.

Today, Tripathi was sentenced to 15 years, and Bhardwaj to 19 years.

The drugs had an estimated street value of £28.9 million but were all seized before they could be sold on and later destroyed by police.

The investigation uncovered previous shipments which had been seized by Border Force during routine searches of containers at the docks. By setting up shell companies Tripathi and Bhardwaj tried to remain at arm’s length from police and avoid detection until the bungled delivery to Somerset.

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