Gatwick Smugglers Jailed: £5M Cocaine Hidden as Soup and Botox Cream

Tyrone Gordon and Ryan Steadman sentenced for smuggling drugs disguised as soup and Botox cream into the UK via Gatwick Airport.

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Two drug smugglers have been jailed for a combined total of 46 years after orchestrating a £5 million plot to ship cocaine into the UK disguised as soup and Botox cream. Tyrone Gordon, 40, from Crawley, and Ryan Steadman, 39, from Lewisham, were sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court for their roles in the sophisticated smuggling operation.

Gordon, the mastermind behind the conspiracy, utilized his contacts in Brazil to arrange the shipments. Meanwhile, Steadman, his second-in-command, coordinated with corrupt baggage handlers at Gatwick Airport to receive the drug-laden suitcases.

The court heard how the operation faced disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, leading the smugglers to discuss alternative methods, including using DHL shipments to continue importing cocaine and heroin. Encrochat messages recovered by law enforcement revealed their plans to disguise the drugs as Botox cream intended for branches of Boots, or among electronic devices heading to TK Maxx.

Judge Christopher Grout condemned the pair’s actions, stating, “Class A drugs destroy lives and not just the lives of the people that use them and deal in them. The families of those people suffer as well. So too does the wider community that has to live with the side effects of drug misuse, which includes related criminality such as robbery and theft committed by addicted users to fund their habits. You are responsible for contributing to this misery in a major way.”

The smuggling operation successfully shipped two suitcases of drugs into Gatwick in February 2020, with the baggage handlers “spiriting away” the contraband. However, on a third flight in January 2021, the suitcase believed to contain drugs could not be found upon arrival at Gatwick. Another shipment in November 2021 was intercepted in Spain, with the drugs disguised as cans of soup.

Judge Grout detailed that 52 kilos of drugs, with a street value of up to £5 million, had been imported or attempted to be imported. The Encrochat messages included references to shipments of “dirty,” understood to be heroin.

Gordon, a father of three, and Steadman, a father of five, were found guilty at trial of conspiracy to import cocaine and heroin. Gordon was also convicted of possession with intent to supply cocaine and offering to supply cocaine. A third defendant, Jack Williams, 33, from Manchester, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine and will be sentenced at a later date.

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