A CRIMINAL gang who used a Christian organisation to import 400 kilos of cannabis into the UK through Birmingham Airport have been sentenced.
Dalton Anderson, 50, Alvin Russell, 45, and Sinclair Tucker, 64, shipped three loads of drugs – worth up to £2million – packed into sealed tins of Calaloo, a Jamaican green vegetable, and Akee fruit.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) say the drugs were addressed to Birmingham-based Vision Christian Ministries (VCM) when they arrived at the airport from Jamaica.
It was shipped in three separate consignments addressed to VCM between March and May 2017, which were all seized by Border Force.
The trio were arrested at the airport in May of that year, while inspecting the third consignment which had just arrived.
NCA investigators established that they organised the imports and collected the drugs from the airport.
The agency says Anderson, of Groveland Road, Tipton, and Russell, of Wood Lane, West Bromwich, also spent some time in Jamaica when the importations were made, handling money and providing shipping documentation to VCM via Tucker, of Groveland Road, Tipton.
Birmingham Crown Court jailed Anderson for nine years, Russell to five years and Tucker to two years (suspended).
NCA operations manager Rick Mackenzie 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.”
All three were charged with conspiracy to import cannabis, with Anderson also charged with possession with intent to supply cannabis after five kilos was found at his home following his arrest.
Anderson was convicted at Birmingham Crown Court last November, with the other two found guilty in November following a five-week trial.
Paul Harper, from Border Force Central Region, said: “Drugs are a plague to our neighbourhoods, exploiting the most vulnerable in our society.
“This seizure and others demonstrates 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.”