Gang who flew cocaine from the Caribbean into Manchester Airport jailed after NCA probe
Three members of an international organised crime group have been sentenced for importing drugs from St Lucia in the Caribbean to the United Kingdom.
A National Crime Agency investigation found that Jamaican national Devon Rowe, 43, Gambian national Baboucarr Nyang, 49, and Briton Winston Andrew, 55, conspired to smuggle cocaine through Manchester Airport in Andrew’s suitcases.
On 23 October 2018 Andrew was stopped by Border Force officers who discovered 2.9kg of the Class A drug hidden in the hollow struts of his three suitcases.
Nyang, of Dale Court, Seymour Road, Slough, Berkshire, was waiting for him in the arrivals hall but when officers stopped him he stated he was at the airport to use the toilet.
Outside the airport was Devon Rowe.
Rowe, (below middle) of Devonport Road, Shepherd’s Bush, London, was the head of organised crime group (OCG).
Andrew, of Long Readings Lane, Slough, had flown to St Lucia approximately four weeks earlier from Gatwick.
During interview, Andrew (below bottom) told NCA investigators he had returned to Manchester and planned to watch a football match, before travelling back to Slough the following day.
Andrew and Nyang insisted they didn’t know each other.
However, CCTV footage showed them together at Gatwick Airport on the day Andrew flew to St Lucia. Nyang (below) also phoned Andrew five times on the morning he landed in Manchester.
Officers discovered there had been at least nine other drug importations or attempted importations on flights from St Lucia to Manchester – eight on dates coinciding with Rowe, or both Rowe and Nyang, travelling to the airport.
Analysis of Rowe’s and Nyang’s mobile phone call data revealed evidence of contact with a number of Caribbean phone numbers. Picture showing a hand holding a wad of cash
In total, the evidence revealed conspiracies involving approximately 32kg of cocaine being smuggled. Based on the same purity as the 2.9kg recovered from Andrew’s suitcases, the total street value would have been approximately £1.2m.
Nyang and Rowe’s phones contained images of large amounts of cash (pictured right) and details of money transfers that were sent to the Caribbean via Western Union.
There were also audio messages on the phone arranging money transfers that needed to be sent to St Lucia. Nyang stated: “It's for their pocket money and they need to fly out very soon.”
The investigation subsequently linked Rowe and Nyang to a seizure in St Lucia of 5.7kg of cocaine from two couriers on 16 December 2018. The cocaine was concealed within the hollow struts of the duo’s suitcases. One of the suitcases was the same make and design as Andrew’s suitcase that was seized on the 23 October 2018 at Manchester Airport. The couriers in St Lucia were due to fly into Manchester Airport.
Last month Rowe, Andrew and Nyang were all convicted by a jury at Manchester Crown Court of conspiring to import cocaine between June 2018 and January 2019.
Today, Rowe was jailed for 16 years, Andrew for seven, and Nyang for 13.
NCA operations manager Charles Lee said: “We know that this OCG had smuggled a significant amount of cocaine from St Lucia to the UK.
“Our investigation has taken three key players out of the crime group’s hierarchy and jeopardised their route.
“Drug supply in the UK is immensely corrosive and leads to violence and misery in our communities.
“The Agency leads the UK fight against Class A drugs coming into the country and we will continue working with our partners in policing and UK Border Force to protect the public.”