Devon Rowe jailed for importing cocaine from the Caribbean
Devon Rowe's gang aimed to bring in drugs with a street value of over a million pounds. Picture: NCA
A 43-year-old man from Shepherd’s Bush has been jailed for being the head of a gang which was importing over a million pounds worth of cocaine into the country.
Devon Rowe of Devonport Road, who is a Jamaican national, oversaw the operations of an organised crime group which sourced the Class A drug from St. Lucia in the Caribbean. It was then brought in hidden in specially designed suitcases.
Along with Gambian national Baboucarr Nyang, 49, and 55-year-old Winston Andrew, he conspired to smuggle cocaine through Manchester Airport in Andrew’s suitcases. Andrew, of Long Readings Lane, Slough, had flown to St Lucia approximately four weeks earlier from Gatwick.
On 23 October 2018 Andrew was stopped by Border Force officers at Manchester Airport who discovered 2.9kg of the Class A drug hidden in the hollow struts of his three bags.
Nyang, of Dale Court, Seymour Road, Slough was waiting for him in the arrivals hall but when officers stopped him he stated he was at the airport to use the toilet.
Meanwhile Rowe was waiting outside the airport terminal.
During interview, Andrew told National Crime Agency (NCA) investigators he had returned to Manchester and planned to watch a football match, before travelling back to Slough the following day. Andrew and Nyang insisted they didn’t know each other.
However, CCTV footage showed them together at Gatwick Airport on the day Andrew flew to St Lucia. Nyang also phoned Andrew five times on the morning he landed in Manchester.
Officers discovered there had been at least nine other drug importations or attempted importations on flights from St Lucia to Manchester – eight on dates coinciding with Rowe, or both Rowe and Nyang, travelling to the airport.
Analysis of their mobile phone call data revealed evidence of contact with phone numbers in the Caribbean.
In total, the evidence revealed conspiracies involving approximately 32kg of cocaine being smuggled. Based on the same purity as the 2.9kg recovered from Andrew’s suitcases, the total street value would have been approximately £1.2m.
Nyang and Rowe’s phones contained images of large amounts of cash and details of money transfers that were sent to the Caribbean via Western Union.
There were also audio messages on the phone arranging money transfers that needed to be sent to St Lucia. Nyang stated, “It's for their pocket money and they need to fly out very soon.”
The investigation subsequently linked Rowe and Nyang to a seizure in St Lucia of 5.7kg of cocaine from two couriers on 16 December 2018. The cocaine was concealed within the hollow struts of the duo’s suitcases. One of the suitcases was the same make and design as Andrew’s suitcase that was seized on the 23 October 2018 at Manchester Airport. The couriers in St Lucia were due to fly into Manchester Airport.
Rowe, Andrew and Nyang had all been convicted at an earlier trial by a jury at Manchester Crown Court of conspiring to import cocaine between June 2018 and January 2019 and last week Rowe was jailed for 16 years, Andrew for seven, and Nyang for 13.
NCA operations manager Charles Lee said, “We know that this OCG had smuggled a significant amount of cocaine from St Lucia to the UK.
“Our investigation has taken three key players out of the crime group’s hierarchy and jeopardised their route.
“Drug supply in the UK is immensely corrosive and leads to violence and misery in our communities.
“The Agency leads the UK fight against Class A drugs coming into the country and we will continue working with our partners in policing and UK Border Force to protect the public.”
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