OFFICERS arresting a man who helped smuggle £3m of cocaine into the UK found a pair of sports bags in his van containing 26 packages, a court has heard.
Eric Ward was believed to be part of a seven-man team accused of smuggling 15kg of pure cocaine through Portsmouth docks on a ship arriving from Costa Rica.
Ward was stopped on Western Road in Portsmouth on November 3 last year and officers from the Serious and Organised Crime Agency examined his vehicle.
Giving evidence in the trial at Winchester Crown Court, SOCA officer Kevin Angilley said: ‘There were two holdalls, one with plastic tape around the handle. I believe they were in the front nearside passenger footwell.
‘I took them out at the request of the scenes of crime officer. I opened them to reveal the contents. There were 13 packages in each bag.’
Mr Angilley had also been part of the team keeping the suspected smugglers under observation as part of the painstaking operation to smash the drugs ring.
On October 29 he was at Notcutts garden centre in Maidstone, Kent, carrying out undercover work.
Posing as a couple with colleague Mandy O’Brien, they saw Roy Godber, David Roberts and Jason Flisher at the centre.
Mr Angilley said he heard one of them say either ‘30 bricks’ or ‘30 blocks’.
Mark Burgess, 43, of Village Road, Gosport and Shaun Wilson, 43, of Madeira Road, North End, Portsmouth, deny a charge of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of the prohibition on the importation of goods.
Richard Edwards, 48, of Kempton Road, Barking, east London, Godber, 61, of Wennington Road, Rainham, Essex, Flisher, 40, of Canterbury Road, Folkestone, Kent and Roberts, 58, of Shannon Way, Waverley, Essex also deny the charge.
Ward, 53, of Copythorn Road, Portsmouth, has pleaded guilty to the offence.