Three people who sent crystal meth to Australia, where it would have been worth up to £4.3 million at street level, have been jailed.

Kent men Kevin Filkins, 54, from Sevenoaks, and Robert Hamilton, 53, from Orpington, together with Yvonne Stewart, 55, from Croydon, were convicted for their roles in a drug trafficking operation in January 2023 following an investigation by the Organised Crime Partnership (OCP) – a joint National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police Service unit.

After 24 kilograms of crystal meth (methamphetamine) was seized in Australia, the country’s Border Force and the Australian Federal Police established that the shipment had come from the UK.

OCP investigators discovered that the drugs had been sent from Croydon on 25 June 2021, with CCTV images identifying Stewart, who was working in the cargo sector at the time. The images also captured a man, subsequently identified as Filkins, sending a shipment labelled ‘two glass Buddhas’ to New South Wales, Australia.

Stewart was responsible for the security inspection of the item. The package did not contain anything except the drugs, which were not concealed, proving Stewart had not checked the contents.

Phone records showed that, at key times, Stewart had been on the phone to Hamilton, who in turn had been in touch with Filkins. Hamilton acted as the middle man, putting Filkins in touch with Stewart who could facilitate the exportation of the drugs as a corrupt insider. Filkins’ phone, and his vehicle, were also found to have travelled from his home address to the vicinity of the cargo centre the same morning.

OCP investigators also identified that Stewart, Filkins and Hamilton had previously sent two other shipments to Australia on 2 and 24 June 2021.

The named senders on all three shipments were individuals who had their passports stolen. One of the consignments was paid for using a card registered to one of those individuals. This card, along with one of the stolen passports, were found in a search of Filkins’ home.

Filkins, Stewart and Hamilton were convicted on 13 January 2023 after a trial at Croydon Crown Court. They were sentenced on 31 May 2024, respectively to 12 years, 12 years and 13 years and six months today at the same court.

Richard Smith, from the Organised Crime Partnership, said:

“This organised crime group sought to make huge profits by trafficking dangerous drugs to Australia. They used Stewart’s inside knowledge of the cargo industry to try to ensure their shipments made it overseas.

“We worked closely with the Australian Federal Police to dismantle this criminal supply chain and protect the public in both countries from the impact of the illegal drugs trade.”

Detective Superintendent Callum Hughes, AFP Senior Officer in London, said:

“This outcome should serve as a warning to those who seek to undertake this type of criminal activity; the risk of lengthy imprisonment far outweighs the short term benefits of your actions.

“The AFP through its officers based in London has an excellent relationships with UK law enforcement agencies such as the NCA and the chances of any group or individual being identified and prosecuted for this type of criminal behaviour has never been higher.”

By Ed

©2024 Hawkinge Gazette       -       The Hawkinge Gazette is not responsible for the content of external sites