A light aircraft pilot has been jailed after he admitted dropping cocaine with an estimated street value of over £2.5million into a field in Kent for conspirators to collect.
Belgian national Rudi Sels, 65, admitted conspiring to import cocaine at the Old Bailey today (28 November) after the CPS worked with other agencies to extradite him to the UK to face trial.
The court heard how Sels had piloted a light aircraft from Brustem Airfield in eastern Belgium with an intended destination of Le Touquet, near Calais in France, on the afternoon of 23 June 2016.
However, shortly after 2.30pm that day, investigators on the ground in the UK observed the plane flying over a field near Faversham in Kent and later recovered more than 32kg of cocaine in a Land Rover which had been parked near the scene.
Three men – two of whom were stopped with the Land Rover - were jailed for between 10 and 16 years after admitting their roles in the conspiracy in January 2017.
Sels was sentenced to 14 years in prison this afternoon - minus 22 days already served awaiting extradition.
Adrian Flasher, from the CPS, said:
“Three men are already serving significant prison sentences for their roles in this international conspiracy to import cocaine into the UK.
“The CPS worked closely with the Belgian authorities and the National Crime Agency in order to extradite Rudi Sels back to this country to face justice for his role in the scheme.
“Faced with the compelling evidence gathered by the prosecution and investigators, Sels has today admitted his guilt and received a significant prison sentence.”
Notes to Editors
· Adrian Flasher is a Specialist Prosecutor with the CPS International Justice and Organised Crime Division
· Rudi Sels admitted one charge of CONSPIRACY TO CONTRAVENE SECTION 170 OF THE CUSTOMS AND EXCISE MANAGEMENT ACT 1979, Contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
· Andrew Barrett (16 years), Michael Mealing (12.5 years) and Jonathan Hart (10 years, nine months) were jailed at the Old Bailey in January 2017. Details of charges and case background: https://www.cps.gov.uk/news/latest_news/drug_smugglers_who_flew_cocaine_to_uk_jailed/index.html