Gangsters guilty of botched coke plot

Drugs conspiracy Robert Rich
Drugs conspiracy Robert Rich
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FOUR South Yorkshire gangsters have been convicted of a failed plot to import five tonnes of cocaine to the UK from Colombia.

Russell Knaggs, aged 38, from Doncaster, planned to import five tonnes of the drug from Colombia via Costa Rica, the USA, and Germany, from his cell at Lowdham Grange Prison in Nottinghamshire, where he was already serving a 16-year sentence for drug trafficking.

Anthony Perger, 51, of Hall Road, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine, while Phillip Hadley, 52, from New Hill, Conisbrough, Doncaster, and Robert Rich, 40, from Burton Road, Barnsley, were found guilty after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

The court heard the gang referred to the plan as a ‘plastering job’ but were unaware they were being monitored by the authorities.

All four will be sentenced on March 2.

They planned to ship cocaine from Colombia to Costa Rica concealed in consignments of fruit via Long Beach, USA and Hamburg.

The group planned to transport the cocaine to the UK in smaller loads hidden in cars.

They failed, after losing the down payment on the first batch of cocaine when their Colombian contact was gunned down by a rival cartel.

The gang was unaware the Serious Organised Crime Agency and its partners were monitoring them gathering evidence from coded conversations and meetings.

Soca said the group talked of making a ‘shed load of dough’.

When prison staff searched Knaggs’ cells they recovered a blueprint for importing cocaine, a list of Colombian drug contacts and notebooks containing flight details and locations for meetings.