An Albanian man who claimed to be a former policeman has been jailed for 18 years for smuggling 60 kilos of cocaine in a specially adapted car.
Arjan Pasha, 40, of Biscot Road, Luton, also told National Crime Agency investigators that he ran a security firm that provided bodyguards to celebrities.
He was stopped by Border Force officers at the Coquelles Channel Tunnel terminal in April 2014.
A search of his Mercedes SUV revealed special compartments had been engineered into spaces around the spare wheel and another beneath the floor.
They contained around 60 kilos of high purity cocaine, which if cut and sold in the UK would have had a likely street value of around £7.98 million.
Pasha’s cover story was found to be a lie after NCA officers obtained phone evidence showing he had also been to Spain and then Amsterdam before attempting to return to the UK.
Investigators also discovered that the security firm had never properly traded, and operated out of a lock-up in Greenford, London, which would have been used to remove the drugs from the car.
The car had been bought on Pasha’s request by Bodrul Hoque Chowdhury, 41, also from Luton, who had been paid £60,000 to source the vehicle using Chowdhury’s car dealership as a cover.
Earlier this year Chowdhury admitted charges of money laundering and was given a 12 month suspended sentence and ordered to carry out 160 hours unpaid work.
On Tuesday Pasha was found guilty of drug smuggling.
Paul Morgan, Border Force director, said: “We welcome this sentence which sends a strong message to people who think they can smuggle drugs into the UK.
“Border Force officers use a range of high-tech search equipment to detect illegal substances and prevent them reaching the UK’s streets.”