Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Jail for Bosses Behind Record [Pounds Sterling]1bn Drugs Plot

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Jail for Bosses Behind Record [Pounds Sterling]1bn Drugs Plot

Article excerpt

Byline: RICHARD EDWARDS;JUSTIN DAVENPORT;PAUL CHESTON

THE masterminds of a [pounds sterling]1billion drugs cartel are behind bars today.

They were jailed after police smashed Britain's biggest international trafficking gang involving up to 60 people from five different nationalities.

Detectives today revealed astonishing details of the intricate planning which allowed tonnes of cocaine to be smuggled into Britain and how 1,000 Colombians were used to launder hundreds of millions of pounds in cash.

Drugs were smuggled into Britain hidden in fruit or dissolved into liquid form and engrained into clothing or plastic. Often it was brought in by the lorry load, packed into pallets and covered in mustard to disguise the smell from sniffer dogs.

It was then distributed to every major British city. Such was the cartel's influence that when it was smashed, the price of cocaine on the streets shot up by 50 per cent.

The profits were taken out of Britain using thousands of Colombians who were sent the money in sums of up to [pounds sterling]500 a time. Other methods of taking the cash back included couriers who swallowed condoms stuffed with 100 Euro notes. Up to [pounds sterling]125,000 a-week was transported in this way.

More than 30 members of the network in Britain - from the ringleaders to street peddlers - have been convicted and jailed. The cartel was headed by two kingpins who apparently lived normal suburban lives in north London.

Former asylum seekers Julius Ruiz-Henao, 45, and his brother-in-law Mario Tascon, 32, kept low profiles in the Colombian community in Hendon.

Tascon worked as a bus driver and a cleaner. Ruiz-Henao was the Mr Big of the operation but posed as a legitimate businessman with a hair salon in Tufnell Park called Gorgeous and Famous. He drove a Land Rover Discovery and set up a charity in Colombia for victims of drug abuse.

The so-called charity, the Colombian Appeal Fund, was to the extent that a number of orphans were living in its premises in Colombia and police did not seize it. …

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