Cocaine smuggler targeted schools

A SMUGGLER who targeted schools in �1million cocaine deal has been jailed for ten years. James Mitchell, 52, a property investor, from Wrottesley Road, Harlesden was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine. Mitchell, along with three other men, us

A SMUGGLER who targeted schools in �1million cocaine deal has been jailed for ten years.

James Mitchell, 52, a property investor, from Wrottesley Road, Harlesden was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Mitchell, along with three other men, used the addresses of an innocent school and pet shop in Herne Hill, South London, to receive four large packages of cocaine smuggled in from Bolivia.

Each parcel contained a kilo of cocaine at 79 per cent purity - around four times the strength of cocaine found in street deals and worth an estimate �1m.


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Both organisations were unaware of the scam.

Couriers tried to deliver the drugs on April 7 but returned them to the depot after they were turned away by staff at the school and pet shop who said they were not expecting them.

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A few days later Mitchell travelled with two fellow conspirers to the Croydon depot where the packages were being held.

Mitchell waited in the red BMW getaway car while a man - later identified as Abrahim Abdul Wahid - walked into the depot and collected the packages.

Detectives, alerted to the scam by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) who intercepted the parcels coming into the country, were watching the scene unfold and tried to arrest the four men.

But seeing the officers Wahid jumped into the car and Mitchell sped off.

Detectives chased the car, which drove off at high speed and into other vehicles in the getaway attempt.

After a high speed chase lasting some minutes officers caught the BMW, arresting all four inside.

Mitchell was arrested for conspiracy to supply cocaine and dangerous driving.

Officers later searched one of the men's - Anthony Reid, a fashion designer from North Finchley - house where they found a found a fully converted loaded MAC-10 sub-machine gun in a children's bedroom.

The gun had been stashed inside a drawstring bag which was hidden in a laptop case, along with 15 rounds found in a sock.

Acting Detective Sergeant Luke Da'Bell of the MPS' Serious and Organised Crime Command said: "Motivated by money, these criminals were using innocent people to cover up the trail of their importation.

"The fact that a loaded sub-machine gun was also found, suggests just what lengths they may have gone to had we not intercepted them. Cocaine is a dangerous class A drug and we are committed to catching those responsible for its illegal distribution."

Mitchell was also sentenced to 12 months in prison for dangerous driving. His sentences will run concurrently.

Craig Beckford, from Tooting, was also found guilty at trial of conspiracy to supply cocaine and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Anthony Reid from North Finchley, was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiracy to supply cocaine, and seven years for possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. The sentences will run consecutively.

Abrahim Abdul Wahid, from Greenwich, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for conspiracy to supply cocaine.

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