Three Dutchmen face lengthy jail terms in Britain for smuggling up to €2.2bn worth of cocaine and heroin into the country using second-hand ambulances, British media reported on Saturday.
During the trial in Birmingham, the court was told how the group were equipped with bogus paramedics’ uniforms and even a fake patient on crutches.
One man, named as 55-year-old Leonardus Bijlsma, was convicted of smuggling while a second, Richard Engelsbel, aged 51, admitted driving an ambulance on 25 trips during the operation. A fourth man, aged 28, was found not guilty.
According to British prosecutors, 38-year-old Olof Schoon was the ‘central player’ who ran the fully taxed and insured ambulances out of registered company offices in the Netherlands. He is said to have made 39 trips to Britain.
The ambulances ran for 14 months, from April last year, until they were caught near a scrap yard in Smethwick in the West Midlands in June.
At the same time, Dutch police carried out raids in Hoofddorp and Zwanenburg and found a further 10 ambulances in storage. They have been taken away for forensic investigation.
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