Import plan failed as drug baron shot

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TWO South Yorkshire men and their two accomplices have been jailed for more than 57 years in total for plotting to import five tonnes of cocaine from Colombia into the UK.

Career criminal Russell Knaggs, 38, from Conisbrough, who orchestrated the scheme from his prison cell in Nottinghamshire, was sentenced to 20 years. His criminal associates Phillip Hadley, 52, of New Hill, Conisbrough, and Robert Rich, 40, from Barnsley, received 18 years and 14 years respectively. All three were found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine following a five-month trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

A fourth member of the organised crime group, Anthony Perger, 51, from Sheffield, pleaded guilty and was jailed for five-and-a-half years.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency and its partners had monitored their every move in the UK and overseas, gathering evidence from coded conversations and meetings. The men referred to their plan as a ‘plastering job’.

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

Despite further attempts, distrust set in and Knaggs eventually called things off.