Four men who were caught smuggling hundreds of kilos of cocaine into the UK inside packages of frozen chicken have been jailed, per Kent Online.

Leader Thomas Lordan, 38, set up a company called Independent Meat Ltd as a front for the illicit imports in May 2019. However, police and the National Crime Agency (NCA) spotted accomplices Francis Sullivan and Emanuel Jella exchanging a holdall packed with 11kg of cocaine in the Kent village of Shadoxhurst a month later. Co-conspirator Mehmet Ali was caught transporting 55kg of cocaine on an industrial estate in Lympne, Kent, in August 2019.

Jella was arrested but Sullivan managed to flee, leading to an investigation which found they were part of a wider criminal network. A few hours after Lordan was arrested, he bought a one-way flight to Turkey and fled the country.

After fleeing, Sullivan was arrested on September 24 at his home where officers also seized £32,000 in cash, scales, and cocaine. Lordan was eventually captured on a European Arrest Warrant by Dutch police at Amsterdam airport on January 14 and was later extradited to the UK. All five members of the organisation admitted conspiracy to supply class A drugs and were jailed for a combined total of 50 years.

"This seizure of a significant amount of cocaine means it hasn't ended up on the streets, fuelling violence and exploitation," NCA operations manager Matt McMillan said. "We have dismantled a well-established drug supply route. Lordan provided the logistics with Sullivan and Ali acting as trusted lieutenants. They used a front company in an effort to disguise their criminality, thinking they could evade capture. But, as this case shows, if you engage in drug trafficking you will be caught."

After appearing at Lewes Crown Court on Thursday, Lordan was sentenced to 18 years in prison, Ali 15 and a half years and Sullivan 10 years. Jella was previously sentanced to six years and seven months for the same offence at Southwark Crown Court.

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