At Manchester Crown Court, 11 men have gone on trial accused of being involved in a drug smuggling gang, including 4 from Greater Manchester. They all deny drugs offences. The trial is expected to last for seven months.
However, it is clear that an international drugs gang imported 'vast' amounts of cocaine, heroin and cannabis into the UK hidden in lorries of fruit and vegetables. Police seized 450 kilos of heroin and cocaine and more than two tons of cannabis, with a total street value of £39.5 million.
Prosecutors say the seizures were the tip of an 'extremely large iceberg'. The authorities intercepted six loads containing drugs, but claim that the gang were responsible for more than 200 shipments.
Prosecutors said it was 'no coincidence' that drugs were hidden in fruit and vegetables. "There are thousands of trucks bringing fresh produce into the UK every day, it is impossible for UK customs to check them all," one of them said. In some cases strong smelling food such as onions, garlic or ginger were used to try and conceal the odour of drugs.