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Couple get over 11 years for smuggling £1.2 million cocaine in handbags through Gatwick

A couple who attempted to smuggle almost 12 kilos of cocaine hidden in the linings of handbags have been jailed for a total of 11 years and five months following a National Crime Agency investigation.

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Italian national Davide Fasano, 31, from East Dulwich and his 25 year-old Spanish girlfriend Tania Michelle Cedeno-Piguave, arrived into the UK on a flight from the Caribbean island of Aruba with £1.2 million worth of the Class A drug.

They were sentenced at the Old Bailey today (Friday, 30 November). Both pleaded guilty to the importation of a controlled drug at a hearing on Monday, 26 November.3

Davide Fasano

Fasano was sentenced to six years and nine months imprisonment. Cedeno-Piguave was sentenced to four years and eight months.

The pair were stopped at Gatwick Airport by Border Force officers on 6 July, 2018, after they arrived from Aruba, where they had been on a week-long holiday.

Tania Michelle Cedeno-Piguave

A sniffer dog indicated there was something inside Fasano’s suitcase. A search by officers revealed only a small amount of clothing but five new handbags inside. The cocaine was hidden inside a false bottom of the suitcase and the linings of the handbags.

They were then both arrested and cautioned by Border Force officers on suspicion of being involved in the importation of a controlled drug.

When subsequently questioned by NCA investigators, both denied any knowledge of the drugs hidden in the luggage.

Fasano claimed he had found the suitcase at a bus stop outside the hotel in Aruba. He said he took it for his girlfriend Cedeno-Piguave as hers had ‘broken’.

When Fasano was asked by investigators why the suitcase was at a bus stop, he couldn’t give an explanation. He then said: “I’m not stupid, I wouldn’t travel 10,000 km carrying cocaine”.

Both were charged and remanded in custody.

Further enquiries by NCA officers revealed thousands of Whatsapp messages written in English, Spanish and Italian. Amongst the messages investigators found a conversation relating to Fasano paying Cedeno-Piguave £3,000 to accompany him to Aruba, and Cedeno-Piguave stating that it “would be dangerous”.

Steve McIntyre, NCA Branch Commander, Heathrow and Gatwick, said:

“The importation of Class A drugs such as cocaine, fuel further crime and violence which cause misery and exploitation of others.

“Fasano and Cedeno-Piguave were reckless in attempting to smuggle drugs into the UK.

“Working with our Border Force colleagues we will target anyone who tries to undermine the security of the UK border by smuggling illegal drugs and protect the public from the inevitable harm this causes.”

Tim Kingsberry, Director of Border Force South, said:

“This is another excellent example of Border Force officers preventing a substantial quantity of drugs, with an estimated street level value of around £1.2 million from ending up on the streets of the UK, where they cause significant harm to both individuals and communities.

“Working with our colleagues at the National Crime Agency (NCA) we are determined to do all we can to stop drug traffickers and ensure that those who involve themselves in this activity face the full consequences of their crimes.”

Crime

Urgent appeal as £5k reward offered to find violent man who ransacked Crawley shop and assaulted child

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Police have launched an urgent appeal and offered a reward of up to £5,000 for information leading to the capture of Jordan Charles.

Charles has links to Crawley and Bexhill in East Sussex as well as Croydon in South London.

The appeal for anonymous information has been launched to urgently find 23-year-old Jordan Charles, who is wanted for questioning over a series of violent incidents in Sussex.  

A string of offences in recent months includes: violence and robbery; threatening revellers with a knife in Brighton; using racist and homophobic language; spitting saliva and blood at police; ransacking a takeaway in Crawley and attacking a customer; attacking staff at another Crawley restaurant with a glass and a metal chain dog lead wrapped around his hand; punching and kicking a woman to the floor outside a nightclub; assaulting a 12-year-old girl who had come to the aid of her mother and aunt during a parking dispute.

He has also failed to appear in court.

Jordan Charles is black, about 5’ 9″, of medium build and with black hair. He is known to have links to Crawley, and is thought to still frequent the area.

Glenys Balchin, Crimestoppers Regional Manager said:

“This man must be found before anyone else comes to harm, which is why we are making an urgent appeal to the public in Sussex, Surrey and south London to help find his location. Jordan Charles is dangerous and the allegations against him are serious.
 
“It is important to remind people that assisting somebody wanted for questioning over a crime can lead to prosecution. We are appealing to anybody who may know the whereabouts of Jordan Charles to urgently tell our charity what you know 100% anonymously. Always. You can call our UK Contact Centre, which is open 24/7, on freephone number 0800 555 111 or you can use our simple and secure anonymous online form.
 
“Crimestoppers has been taking crime information since our charity was formed over 32 years ago. Every day over a thousand people trust our charity with their anonymous information. Nobody will know you contacted us, only you.”

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