Escobar of Essex drug lord jailed after sending coke shipment to wrong country

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    A Brit drug lord dubbed "Escobar of Essex" because of his links to Colombian narcotics cartels has been jailed for 16 years after he sent a huge cocaine shipment to the wrong country.

    Jonathan Parkhill, 55, from Clacton, Essex, mistakenly sent 30kg of cocaine to South Africa when it was supposed to land in Germany. Officers busted him through his encrypted chat EncroChat as he hastily tried to fix this mistake.

    The German shipment was seized in 2020, and Parkhill was arrested in Heathrow Airport after returning from Colombia in 2021.

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    A source told The Sun that the Essex man "is one of the biggest drugs traffickers caught in the UK for a long time".

    Parkhill was sentenced to 16 years in prison at Isleworth Crown Court, alongside right hand man Kevin Hanley, 44, from Uxbridge, West London, who was given 11.

    Parkhill and Hanley admitted conspiracy to import cocaine as well as admitting a "string of other offences".

    The pair attempted to get over 500kg, worth more than £19million, into Belgium.

    A court heard, however, that the deal went awry. The money was supposed to get split between Colombian groups and Parkhill, and Hanley was given a beating as a result.

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    Recorder Andrew Campbell-Tiech said: “On the point of view of the defendants, both importations failed.”

    The arrests were among 746 arrests in the National Crime Agency’s Operation Venetic. Venetic was a ploy to crack drug gang's encrypted chats.

    The operation was led by the National Crime Agency in conjunction with partners from overseas organisations.

    EncroChat – a go to for those who partake in illicit trades – was dismantled in 2020.

    The NCA said it was used to "co-ordinate and plan the distribution of illicit commodities; money launder; and plot to kill rival criminals."

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