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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

Crawley Man who was trying to guide youths away from crime jailed for causing serious injury by dangerous driving

A man has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to casing serious injury by dangerous driving following a collision in Horley in September 2018.

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Iqubal Khan, 35, also pleaded guilty to failing to stop and failing to report an injury collision when he appeared at Guildford Crown Court on 4 February.

Khan was also disqualified from driving for three years and nine months.

Khan was driving along Shipley Bridge Lane around 6.10pm on 23 September 2018 when his car, a Toyota Corolla, was involved in a head-on collision with a Range Rover Sport.

He fled the scene immediately following the collision, leaving one of his passengers behind with serious leg injuries. He also failed to report the collision.

It later emerged that the car he was driving was also dangerously overloaded with excess passengers, with four adults squashed on the rear seat.

The other driver escaped uninjured, while the other passengers suffered minor injuries as a result of the collision.

Only recently Khan had expressed how much he wanted to help change the corrupt course of youngsters lives that drugs and knifes had put them on.

Khan was arrested on 29 November 2018 after officers tracked him down through DNA left in the vehicle when he fled.

Sergeant Geoff Longstaff, who investigated the collision, said:

“Not only was Khan driving dangerously at the time of the collision, his car was also excessively overloaded. He then fled the scene, not even bothering to check whether his passengers were unharmed. One of his passengers sustained serious leg injuries and is still suffering with the effects of the collision to this day.

“It didn’t take long to find out he had been driving, thanks to statements from his passengers and the other driver, and now he is off our roads and in prison where he belongs for the complete lack of regard and remorse he has shown.”

Sgt Longstaff added:

“The sentence handed to Khan demonstrates our determination to ensure that those who use Surrey’s roads dangerously and irresponsibly and put the lives of others at risk when they get behind the wheel, will be dealt with robustly.”

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