UPDATE 18 January 2017
Two former ferry workers have been jailed for plotting to smuggling class A drugs into the UK from the Netherlands.
Eddie Tron, 51, and Mark Quilliam, 55, were sentenced to 16 years each at Hull Crown Court.
They were found guilty of conspiring to import class A drugs on 17 January.
Tron’s wife Susan was found guilty of money laundering and sentenced to nine months in prison.
The convictions followed an undercover National Crime Agency investigation into the activities of Tron, who was recorded bragging about how he had made thousands of pounds transporting drugs on the route between Rotterdam and Hull.
17 January 2017
Two former ferry workers have been found guilty of smuggling class A drugs into the UK from the Netherlands.
The National Crime Agency began an investigation into Eddie Tron, 51, and Mark Quilliam, 55, after the conviction of one of their former colleagues, Jonathan Heald, in 2013.
Heald was arrested in possession of around £60,000 criminal cash and was jailed for money laundering.
An undercover NCA officer befriended Tron over a three month period. During this time Tron confided in the officer, that he and Heald had been working together to import drugs from the Netherlands. They used Quilliam, who worked on another ship for the same company, as a point of contact with criminal groups in Liverpool and suppliers in the Netherlands.
Tron bragged that he had made thousands of pounds from every trip, but he said work had dried up since Heald’s arrest:
“I started making some money, serious f***ing money. And then it stopped cos of a lad being greedy.”
Financial checks would later show that Eddie Tron and his wife Susan, 54, deposited almost £140,000 in cash in three bank accounts held by the couple between 2009 and 2015. Many of the deposits were made in bank branches in Liverpool.
Eddie Tron then tried to recruit the undercover officer to work on future smuggles, telling him: “We’ll have to go ashore in Rotterdam…and you would meet a kid and he would give you something. And then just bring it on and then, this side, I would take it off.”
He also explained how he planned to conceal the drugs, using work jackets:
“I give him my coat, my coat’s got f*** all in it, he gives me a coat with four kilos in or whatever it is. Then, when we get off in Hull, same thing. So, all you’re doing is passing the coat.”
In April 2015 Tron travelled to Rotterdam to make contact with drug traffickers there directly. He was under surveillance by Dutch police. Tron was seen getting into a car, but the driver of the car appeared to become suspicious that it was being followed and drove off at high speed, losing the police.
Several weeks later Tron met Quilliam at a pub in Hull. He later told the undercover officer how Quilliam had said his contacts wouldn’t use Eddie for any more importations because of what had happened in Rotterdam.
On 30 September 2015 Eddie Tron was arrested by NCA officers on board the Pride of Hull (see picture above). Susan Tron and Mark Quilliam were detained at their home addresses.
Eddie Tron claimed that he had made up stories about drug smuggling, and that everything he told the undercover officer had been “fantasy”. His wife claimed the money that had been paid into her bank account had been from gambling wins.
But on Tuesday 17 January a jury at Hull Crown Court found Eddie Tron and Mark Quilliam guilty of conspiring to import class A drugs. Susan Tron was found guilty of money laundering. They will be sentenced on Wednesday 18 January.
Mick Maloney, from the National Crime Agency’s Border Policing Command, said:
“Eddie Tron and Mark Quilliam worked as ‘guns for hire’, selling their services to organised crime groups to help them get their commodity into the UK.
“Theirs was an important link in the chain which connects ruthless cocaine manufacturers in South America with street gangs involved in violence and exploitation on the streets of the UK.
“They abused their access and knowledge to bypass border controls and import large quantities of class A drugs, but our investigation was able to uncover their corruption.
“The NCA is grateful for the support and co-operation of the ferry operator, port authorities and Border Force in this investigation. We are all determined to target and stop those who seek to circumvent border controls for criminal purposes.”