Hucknall men jailed for their parts in drugs plot

Two men from Hucknall have been jailed for their involvement in an international drug smuggling plot.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 12:59 am
Updated Friday, 14th May 2021, 12:56 pm

Daniel Parrot, 48, and Jason Tongue, were part of an organised crime group who conspired to import cannabis on a yacht into the UK between February 29 and June 1 last year.

The pair were caught, along with two other men, following a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.

The gang used encrypted comms platform EncroChat to plan the importation of the class B drug from Morocco .

Daniel Parrot (left) and Jason Tongue were both jailed for their parts in the plot

Part of Operation Venetic – the UK law enforcement response to the takedown of EncroChat – the NCA’s investigation found that the group had discussed the quantity of drugs to be transported, also finding images of the RHIB and landing areas for the cannabis.

Led by Rupert Kelly, 29, from Broadwindsor in Dorset, the crime group conspired to use a yacht and a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) to offload the drugs in Cornwall for distribution across the UK.

Investigators found that Parrot was responsible for purchasing fuel drums, which would be used as cover to transport the cannabis on the RHIB.

Gavin Challis, 46, from Nazeing in Essex, was to arrange the purchase of the cannabis for supply in the UK, while Tongue was due to meet the RHIB when it landed in the UK.

Officers searched the men’s properties and seized multiple mobile phones.

Cash totalling more than £25 000 was recovered from Kelly and Challis’ addresses, as well as four cannabis plants and six cannabis seedlings from Challis’ home.

On May 13, the men appeared at Bristol Crown Court and received a total of 12 years imprisonment between them.

They were found guilty of conspiracy to import and supply class B drugs.

Kelly was sentenced to five years and six months, Parrot received three years and six months, Challis received three years and Tongue received 18 months.

Ty Surgeon, operations manager at the NCA, said: “It’s clear that these men had every intention of importing the drugs into the UK for distribution, where they could well have fuelled exploitation and violence.

“Despite their attempts to conceal their plans by using EncroChat devices, our investigation prevented this plot from coming to fruition.

“Disrupting organised crime groups, from source countries to the streets of the UK, remains one of our top priorities.”