Olveston man plotted to smuggle cocaine worth £500,000 for delivery to Airbnb rental
AN Olveston man has been jailed for his part in a conspiracy to smuggle cocaine worth £500,000 to a house rented on Airbnb.
Bertram Jack Fallon and Arron James Collins used encrypted messaging services to arrange shipments from Amsterdam to the UK, hiding the cocaine in whey protein powder packages.
The National Crime Agency uncovered communications on the EncroChat and Wickr platforms involving arrangements for importing five kilos of cocaine – with an estimated street value of £500,000 – which Border Force officers seized at London Gateway Parcel Hub last year.
Fallon (above, left), aged 31, was jailed for six years and six months yesterday after pleading guilty to charges of conspiring to import cocaine and failing to disclose the PINs for his mobile phones.
Collins (right), 35, described as the "main organiser" of the plot by the NCA, was jailed for nine years and five months after admitting conspiracy to import cocaine at the same Bristol Crown Court hearing.
The NCA said Collins rented a property through online platform Airbnb on Chessel Street in Bedminster, Bristol, between January 14 and 18 2020, to wait for the delivery of cocaine.
When it did not arrive, he repeatedly chased the letting company for updates after he had left.
NCA officers spotted Fallon driving past the Airbnb rental on the day the shipment was due to be delivered.
He was arrested a few days later at his home on Bramley Close in Olveston.
Collins was arrested at his home on Newland Walk, Withywood, Bristol, the following month. Officers found scales with traces of cocaine and ketamine.
Some of the cocaine seized by Border Force officers
Messages analysed in June last year as part of Operation Venetic – the UK investigation into the encrypted messaging platform EncroChat – provided further evidence of the drug-dealing operation.
Collins wrote that booking the property in his name and emailing the agent was a “stupid mistake” to make because it linked him to the drugs.
In one message, he said: “It only takes one mistake to get caught.”
Fallon and Collins talked to each other via another encrypted messaging service, Wickr.
NCA operations manager Anthony Hubbard said: "These men thought they could use encrypted messaging platforms to act with impunity, but criminals who use this method to arrange drug shipments are not untouchable.
"Our priority will always be to protect the public, and we will continue to pursue criminals involved in the drugs trade, which fuels violence and exploitation throughout the UK."
The agency is now seeking a confiscation order against Collins, who owns several houses worth more than £1 million.
Immigration compliance minister Chris Philp said: "This was tremendous work by Border Force officers, who prevented dangerous Class A drugs from reaching our streets. Working with our partners such as the NCA, we will throw the full force of the law at organised criminals who use encrypted chat platforms to peddle their dangerous cargo."