A Rushden dealer who was the right-hand man of a drug baron who helped ship up to £1.6bn of drugs into the UK in an ambulance has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Darren Owen, 48, of Balham Close, was arrested after being found with 10kg of drugs in his car in heat-concealed boxes in Sudbury, Suffolk.
The day before his arrest he was spotted meeting leading UK drug supplier James Gibson at a service station in Raunds.
Owen was Gibson’s trusted courier for the Dutch Organised Crime Group (OCG), who brought drugs into the country concealed in ambulances.
On June 16 last year, National Crime Agency officers and West Midlands Police intercepted a Dutch ambulance in Smethwick.
The ambulance was found to be containing 193kg of high purity cocaine worth £30m, 74kg of heroin worth £8m, and MDMA worth £60,000.
NCA bosses found that the ambulances had more than 50 previous trips to the UK.
A dealer list was seized at the scene which included a man known as ‘Gibbo’ - James Gibson - who police identified as a major UK supplier.
After being arrested Gibson admitted knowing Owen, calling him ‘topman’.
Examinations of Gibson’s phone showed him giving specific instructions to Owen about collecting boxes at the time of his arrest.
Owen was found to have met the ambulances on seven separate occasions on a weekly basis between April and June 2015.
Gibson, 56, of Ollerton in Nottinghamshire, was sentenced to 20 years in jail.
A further four men were also jailed for their involvement in the drugs ring.
Richard Clarke, 36, of Acton, Suffolk, was responsible for the storage of the drugs to be distributed.
He was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Jonathan Floyd, 47, of Manchester, met the Dutch ambulances to collect drugs and distributed them across the north west of the UK.
He was sentenced to 15 years in jail.
Raymond DeSilva, 60, of Slough, was a drugs courier who was in contact with Gibson.
He was jailed for 16 years.
Peter Kastrati, 42, of London, was charged with conspiracy to import class A drugs after being linked to the ambulances.
He was sentenced to 17 years and six months in prison.
The six men all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to imprt and conspiracy to supply class A drugs.