Third man jailed in Southampton for involvement in cocaine drug smuggling plot

A MAN has been jailed for eight years for plotting to bring cocaine into the UK by boat.

By Hollie Busby
Friday, 10th June 2022, 12:01 pm
Updated Friday, 10th June 2022, 12:02 pm

Thomas Snell, 31, of no fixed abode, was sentenced at Southampton Crown Court yesterday (June 9).

He pleaded guilty to conspiring to fraudulently avoid the prohibition of cocaine at a Southampton Crown Court hearing on March 30.

It comes after Snell’s accomplices Edward Duggin, 33, of Norris Way, Buntingford, Hertfordshire, and Justine Romaraog, 22, of Talfourd Way, Redhill, Surrey, also pleaded guilty to the same offence.

Thomas Snell.

They were jailed for 15 and 11 years in April.

On September 9 the pair departed Southampton Water on Bubble E, a motor cruiser, with the intention of meeting a yacht in the English Channel with the intention to take two tonnes of cocaine onboard that had been smuggled from South America by the wider organised crime group.

However, as a result of an operation by the National Crime Agency and UK Border Force, the inbound yacht was intercepted and the drugs seized.

Romaraog and Duggin were arrested and charged on October 15 in connection with the conspiracy.

Read More

Read More
Police report boy, 17, who went missing almost a month ago and has links to Port...

The convictions follow a joint investigation by the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit and the National Crime Agency with the support of law enforcement partners.

On October 14 last year, UK Border Force boarded the cruiser the defendants were travelling on in the English Channel off the coast of Falmouth.

Traces of white powder, confirmed to be cocaine, were found on board the vessel inside voids, indicating that these spaces had been used for the storage of cocaine in the past.

Duggin’s mobile phone also showed the use of an encrypted application which indicated the group’s intention to pick up drugs.

Officers uncovered that the defendants had been carrying out a ‘practice-run’ by conducting planned interceptions at sea with South American ships in order to assess the viability of collecting jettisoned packages.

The court heard that on October 1 the three left Dartmouth, where they had been refuelling Bubble E, for Brest in France.

Investigating officer detective sergeant Dan Hope, of SEROCU, said: ‘Excellent joint working with the National Crime Agency and UK Border Force ensured that this organised crime group was intercepted at sea. This prevented a Class A drug, which has extremely harmful consequences to society, from reaching our streets.’