Two cousins have been jailed for more than 30 years after we seized up to £20 million of hidden cocaine from a van in the West Midlands.
Drug blocks were discovered within concealed compartments – opened by a sophisticated system – which we unearthed after stopping and searching the vehicle.
Suspicions had been raised about the Mercedes Sprinter van which had travelled to the UK from France earlier in the day, prompting officers to pull it over near Homer Road, Solihull town centre, on 24 June last year.
Police found some initial bags containing around 40 kilo blocks of drugs which were secreted away underneath the rear seats.
This led us to arrest the driver Adrian Tirnovan and passenger George Tirnovan on suspicion of possessing drugs with intent to supply.
Police then carried out further searches of the van and found a wire in the steering column with five connectors, and then some further loose wires near the handbrake.
Police pieced these together and this unlocked a system opening five concealed compartments in the sides and overhead space of the Sprinter.
Inside these we found an additional 187 kilos of Class A drugs, of 16 different brands.
Following a full analysis it’s estimated the drugs had a potential street value of up to £20 million.
Adrian Tirnovan, aged 22, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to the importation of cocaine, and possession with intent to supply, and was sentenced to 14 years and three months imprisonment at Coventry Crown Court on Wednesday (24 January).
George Tirnovan, aged 28 from Forest Gate, London, was convicted of the same offences following a trial and was jailed for 18 years.
Detective Inspector David Simpson, from the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) which led the investigation, said: “This was a substantial amount of Class A drugs which were destined to flood the streets.
“Drugs not only ruin lives but lead to further crime so this was a significant discovery.
“The loose wires sparked suspicions and from there we found the vehicle had been kitted out with a system which led us to concealed compartments.
“This pair have now been jailed for a long time and our work is ongoing to bring down drug supply chains.”
We’re running Operation Target in a tough stance against a range of serious offences – from drug dealing and burglary, to cyber-crime and fraud.
Officers are using local intelligence, seizing goods, carrying out warrants and targeting suspects as part of the ongoing operation.