UK: 7/7 hero jailed over £100 mn drug ring

Simon has been jailed for 14 years for smuggling 110 kg of cocaine into UK.

Last Updated: Jan 06, 2011, 12:51 PM IST

London: A firefighter honoured for his bravery during the aftermath of the July 07 bombings has been jailed for 14 years for smuggling 110 kg of cocaine into Britain.

Simon Ford, 41, won a London Fire Brigade Gold Award after risking his life to pull victims from the bus blown up in London`s Tavistock Square in July 2005.

But the fireman was jailed last year after admitting he was a key player in a GBP 100 million cocaine and money-laundering operation.

His conviction was revealed to the public for the first time on Wednesday after the 35th and final member of the gang was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court and reporting restrictions were lifted.

A total of 33 people involved in the network -- which had sprawling operations in Colombia, Spain, India, Israel and several north African states -- have been sentenced to more than 200 years in prison between them, for crimes ranging from firearms offences to money-laundering.

The court heard how huge batches of cocaine were delivered to a taxi garage under the Westway flyover in Paddington, central London, ready for packaging and distribution.

The gang had over GBP 100 million in cash stashed at Royal Oak Taxis, which served as a money laundering hub.

Ford was arrested in February 2008 in the largest raids ever conducted by British police, involving various properties across London and the Home Counties and over 500 officers.

The firefighter was caught at his flat in Chertsey, Surrey, halfway through repackaging 100 kilos of cocaine, worth around GBP 5.5 million.

Detective Superintendent Steve Richardson, head of Scotland Yard`s Special Intelligence Section, said the operation had dealt a "huge blow" to the British class A drugs industry.

"The link between drugs and violence has been well made and can ultimately be traced to violence and harm in London`s boroughs," he said.

"These criminals had been living the lives of wealthy businessmen through their criminal activity. The lives they are now leading could not be more different."

Bureau Report