Four men have been sentenced at Northampton Crown Court for their part in a drug smuggling operation where £5 million worth of heroin was bought into the UK hidden inside a kitchen sink.
Two men were found guilty by a jury last week following a three week trial while two others pleaded guilty to their roles in the significant drugs operation. A fifth defendant was found not guilty.
Around 40kg of heroin, with an estimated street value of around £5 million, was seized from the industrial unit of a bakery in Moulton Park, Northampton, in August 2015 by officers from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) and Northamptonshire Police.
The drugs had been hidden in a kitchen worktop and delivered to the bakery, unbeknownst to the business owners.
Jason Chisolm, aged 42, from Northampton was found guilty of conspiracy to import and supplying class A drugs. He was sentenced to four and a half years.
Johannes Weber, aged 43, of Waspik, Holland, was found guilty of conspiracy to import and supplying class A drugs. He was sentenced to 17 years.
Robert Lovatt, aged 39, from Northampton and Johannes Woltering, aged 38 of Waspik, Holland, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply and import Class A drugs. They were sentenced to 15 years and 16 years respectively.
Robert Lovatt senior, aged 62, of Pembroke Gardens, Northampton had been charged with conspiracy to import and supply drugs but was acquitted on both counts.
During the trial, Robert Lovatt senior maintained that he had agreed to give his son, Robert Lovatt junior, and Chisholm a lift, and while at the bakery he had collected some rolls and had simply helped load the pallet of kitchen worktops into the white van, but had nothing to do with what was inside it.
Investigators identified that a similar shipment of drugs had also been made to the unit, merely a month earlier, on 28 July, 2015.
Detective Constable Ian Hollyoake, from EMSOU, said: “These men exploited the premises of a law abiding local business to conduct their illicit trade.
“Our investigation showed it was not the first time this method had been used to ship large quantities of drugs to the UK, but rest assured, it was the last time.
“This investigation means these Class A drugs, worth millions, will not make their way to our streets to cause untold damage to our communities, and these five men have been stopped in their criminal tracks and face a substantial amount of time in jail.”