Drugs plot man plans appeal

The Conisbrough man dubbed Britain’s cocaine “Mr Big” has been jailed for 20 years for plotting to import five tonnes of cocaine into the UK from Colombia.

Career criminal Russell Knaggs, 38, who orchestrated the scheme from his cell at Lowdham Grange Prison in Nottinghamshire, was sentenced to 20 years at Birmingham Crown Court.

Knaggs’ criminal associates Phillip Hadley, 52, from New Hill, Conisbrough and Robert Rich, 40, from Barnsley, received 18 years and 14 years respectively. All three were found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine following a five-month trial.

The fourth member of the organised crime group, Anthony Perger, 51, from Sheffield, pleaded guilty and was jailed for five and a half years.

It is understood Knaggs will appeal against his conviction.

A spokesman for the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) said they and their partners were monitoring their every move in the UK and overseas, gathering evidence from coded conversations and meetings. The men referred to their plan as a “plastering job” in an attempt to avoid detection and talked of making a “shed load of dough”.

They failed, after losing the down payment on the first batch of cocaine when their Colombian contact was gunned down by a rival cartel. Despite further attempts, distrust set in and Knaggs eventually called things off.

Gerry Smyth, SOCA’s North East Regional Head of Investigations, said:

“Knaggs believed he could continue business from behind bars but no-one should think they are beyond reach. SOCA and its partners will use their expertise and determination to stamp down hard on organised criminals, regardless of where they operate.”

Knaggs’ parents, Ray and Joyce, of Conisbrough, were reluctant to comment on their son’s case this week.

Mr Knaggs told the Times: “Russell is in the process of appealing against his conviction and I feel very confident his appeal will be upheld in light of the evidence”.