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NCA: Birmingham barber ran Caribbean cocaine smuggling group

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6 July 2018

A barber from Birmingham has been convicted, along with five others, of importing at least £1 million worth of cocaine into the UK from Jamaica disguised as coconut milk powder, coffee and Lasoy milk.

Nigel Roberts, 41, of Sutton Coldfield, was arrested in May 2017 after National Crime Agency (NCA) investigators identified him as the ringleader behind four previous importations of cocaine into UK airports.

Phone records identified that Roberts was in contact with key members of his network around the time of each importation and had given them instructions via WhatsApp.

In June 2016, Roberts worked with an associate in Jamaica, Craig Mullings, 46, and his girlfriend, Diana Ricketts, 35, to arrange for 5kg of cocaine concealed in packets of coconut milk powder to be imported into Manchester airport by a courier travelling from Montego Bay.

On 30 June 2016 the courier was intercepted by Border Force officers and the cocaine was seized which led to an investigation being launched by the NCA.

It was established that at the time of the arrival of the courier, both Ricketts and Roberts had travellead to Manchester airport awaiting the arrival of the cocaine.

Three further stops were made by Border Force officers at Gatwick and Birmingham Airports of Roberts’ couriers who had attempted to import between 5kg-10kg of cocaine, some in identical packaging.

Messages found on Roberts’ phones proved he was involved in the organisation of each importation. In the days after the arrest of Deannia Madden-Walker, 47, who attempted to smuggle 5kg into Gatwick Airport, had sent a text saying, “I’m on a bad luck streak, one of my ships crashed again.”

Following the seizure of 10.8kg of cocaine hidden in coffee and Lasoy milk in December 2016, evidence revealed that Roberts and Abdul Thomas, 34, had together arranged for the drugs to be imported.

Thomas had been in touch with Roberts prior to this to instruct him to “take out what you need to take out” from the suitcases which were found to be carrying the cocaine.

Roberts and Ricketts both pleaded guilty to their roles in the drug smuggling network. Yesterday (05/07/2018) after a four week trial at Minshull Street Crown Court, a jury found Mullings, Thomas and Madden-Walker guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine.

All five will be sentenced on 20 July 2018.

Another member of the network who was charged with being a courier in one of the importations, Dwane Johnson AKA Boasty, went on the run before he could stand trial and remains wanted by the NCA.

Jon Hughes, Operations Manager at the NCA, said: “Despite several failed attempts and the arrest of members of his crime group, Roberts was reckless enough to continue trying to bring class A drugs into the UK.

“Those involved in the importation and selling of drugs like cocaine are directly responsible for fuelling gang culture and violence in Britain’s cities.

“Working with our Border Force colleagues we will target anyone who tries to undermine the security of the UK border by smuggling illegal drugs and protect the public from the inevitable harm this causes."

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