Two corrupt lorry drivers have been jailed for a combined 31 years after being found guilty of trying to smuggle class A drugs into the UK.

drug packages laid out on the floorThe National Crime Agency began an investigation into Slovenian national Adam Grzelj, 52, in April 2020 after his lorry was intercepted at Dover.

The packages of drugs were found concealed in pallets beneath boxes of frozen pizza.

Border Force officers recovered 81 kilos of cocaine and three kilos of heroin, which would have had a street level value of £6.7 million.

NCA investigators brought the case to court and at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday 26 February he was found guilty of importing class A drugs. He was jailed for 15 years.

The second driver Kiril Petkov Hubavenski, a 34-year-old from Vidrare in Bulgaria, was detained at Dover on 20 June last year.

Officers found 11 kilos heroin and 26 kilos cocaine hidden beneath the mattresses of the bunks in his cab. NCA forensic experts valued the haul at £3.2 million.

Hubavenski, who had recently been released from prison in Bulgaria after being convicted of unlawful killing in 2014, was found guilty of drug smuggling yesterday (1 March) and was jailed for 16 years.

NCA Dover branch operations manager Debbie Cook said:

“Organised criminal gangs rely on corrupt drivers like these to bring their illicit commodities into the UK.

“They form a vital role in the criminal supply chain that sees violence and exploitation at every step – linking the cartels in South America to the street gangs here in the UK.

“These men have received substantial and life-changing jail terms for that. I hope it sends out a message to other hauliers who might consider doing the same.

“Working with partners like Border Force we are determined to do all we can to track down and convict anyone who would try to breach our border controls in this way.”

02 March 2021