UK & World News
Fugitive Cocaine Trafficker Jailed For 12 Years
A drug trafficker who featured in a National Crime Agency (NCA) campaign to catch fugitives has been jailed for 12 years over his involvement in a plot to supply 400 kilos of cocaine.
Ian Stanton, 43, from Liverpool, was among those targeted in the Operation Captura 'Unlucky 13' campaign to catch suspected criminals last November.
That came after 16 holdalls full of high-quality cocaine, with a street value of £71m, were intercepted by Border Force officers in May 2013.
The haul was found at Tilbury Docks hidden in a container of frozen Argentine beef.
It was replaced with dummy packages of bricks and the container was taken on a lorry to its end destination - a cold storage unit in Wigan.
One of Stanton's criminal associates collected two holdalls but later dumped them when he realised the drugs were not inside.
NCA officers proved Stanton was part of the crime group that planned a violent mission to recover the cocaine, not knowing it had been seized by law enforcement.
Officers watched and listened as Stanton met members of the group at the Aintree Retail Park. They discussed the use of physical and sexual violence against anyone who had information.
Stanton was captured at a house in Rotterdam by a team of officers from the Dutch police. More than 20,000 euros, a drug press and numerous mobile phones were recovered.
He was extradited and later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Greg Mckenna, NCA branch commander, said: "Stanton was a fugitive who thought he could evade capture and continue drug trafficking but we tracked him down and now he's behind bars where he belongs.
"This amount of cocaine could have caused devastating damage had the crime group succeeded. They were willing to use extreme violence but as a result of close working with our national and international partners their plan failed."
Three of Stanton's criminal associates from Liverpool - James Mossman, aged 37, Gary Keating, 29, and Francis Oakford, 47 - were previously sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison.
Mossman and Keating both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, while Oakford pleaded guilty to conspiracy to blackmail.
Anthony Short, 40, from Croston, Lancashire, who purchased the cover load of beef, was also sentenced today and received 22 years. He was found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine following a three-week trial.
A financial investigation is now under way.
Officers also want to question Liverpool men Anthony Saunderson and David McDermott in connection with the cocaine seizure. Both were at the Aintree Retail Park meeting.
Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the NCA on 0370 496 7622.