Corrupt Border Force officer was “open door” for drug smuggling into UK
A corrupt Border Force officer who helped criminals smuggle guns and drugs worth £3.5m into the UK has received 23 years in jail.
Simon Pellett planned to use his government-issued transit van to bring firearms, silencers and ammunition through the Channel Tunnel but French police swooped in Calais and recovered the contraband, which also included 34kg of cocaine and 6kg of heroin.
Pellett, along with co-conspirators David Baker and Alex Howard, had been under surveillance by National Crime Agency (NCA) investigators in the lead up to their arrests last October. The trio were convicted by a jury of importing cocaine and heroin after a month-long trial at Isleworth Crown Court.
Pellet had been covertly recorded discussing how to evade security checks and bring goods across the Channel, all while wearing his Border Force uniform. In court Pellett was described as “an open door for smuggling high value drugs into the country”.
Pellett and Baker were also convicted of importing firearms, but Howard was cleared of that charge. Pellett was also convicted of misconduct in public office. He was sentenced on Friday (November 16).
Baker received 20 years and 115 days’ imprisonment for three counts of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of the prohibition on the importation of goods.
Howard has been sentenced to ten years and 115 days’ imprisonment for two counts of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of the prohibition on the importation of goods.
Speaking after French police arrested the men last year Dave Hucker, head of the NCA’s Anti-Corruption Unit, said: ‘This operation has brought together law enforcement from both sides of the Channel, and we believe we have prevented the importation of a significant quantity of class A drugs and firearms to the UK.
Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Sam Cailes from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command added: “This has been a complex and highly-successful joint operation that has effectively removed a criminal network, which included a serving corrupt Border Force official. We are committed to reducing the number of firearms entering the UK and potentially ending up in the hands of violent criminals. The removal of these weapons and drugs has reduced a significant threat to London’s communities. The sentences handed to these individuals should send a clear message to anyone involved, or considering becoming involved in criminality, that we will identify you and bring you to justice.”