UK & World News
Drugs Plot Mastermind Jailed Over £150m Haul
A career criminal who masterminded a plot to smuggle 1.5 tonnes of cocaine into the UK has been found guilty and sentenced to 28 years in prison.
John Brooks, 61, who is originally from Blackpool, but had been living in Marbella, Spain, assembled a crew to import the cocaine, worth an estimated £150m, on board the boat Dances with Waves.
In November 2008, the boat was intercepted by authorities 170 miles off the southwest coast of Ireland. It had set sail from Trinidad in the Caribbean and stopped off in Venezuelan waters to pick up the cocaine before heading for Liverpool.
The drugs seizure was one of the largest in Irish history.†
Sentencing. the judge, Recorder Sanghera, said the haul had been a "horrifyingly large amount" of cocaine and he was convinced Brooks had played a "leading role" in this plot, and in "drug trafficking generally".†
Brooks, who was arrested in November 2011 while visiting family in Blackpool, was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court after being found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine.
Crew members Philip Doo and David Mufford, from Devon, and Christopher Wiggins, who had been living on the Costa del Sol, were arrested at the time of the seizure.
They pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply, and were each jailed for ten years in 2009.
Matt Horne†from the Serious Organised Crime Agency said: "Brooks was the go-to man for organised crime groups as he was an expert in arranging the transportation of huge quantities of drugs.
"His criminal career stretches back nearly 30 years, during which time he has travelled extensively using false identities and has been imprisoned on a number of occasions.
"We also discovered he had escaped from a Moroccan prison in 2000 but once he was in our sights there was only ever going to be one place he would end up. Now he's back in prison where he belongs and we're going after his money.
"Not only have we kept a huge amount of cocaine out of the UK, we can be confident that a number of crime groups have also been denied profits which would otherwise have been reinvested in further criminal activity."
Brooks apparently gave Moroccan prison guards the slip during a trip to hospital. It is understood he got into a car and fled across the Straits of Gibraltar, after jumping from a cliff onto a jet ski.
After completing his latest jail term in the UK, Brooks faces extradition to France to serve a 13 year sentence he was given in his absence after a four-tonne cannabis seizure in 1989.
Soca's financial investigation is ongoing and a confiscation hearing will take place at a later date.