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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

Appeal for help after five masked robbers force way into home in Crawley

Detectives in Crawley are seeking information about a violent attack at a home in Pound Hill.

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At 3,30pm on Thursday 22 November the occupants of the house in Punch Copse Road, answered the door, and were confronted with five men with their faces covered who threatened the occupants and forced their way into the house.

They stole a quantity of cash and a box containing some cutlery before leaving the address and making off in a car which was parked nearby.

All the suspects are described as black, and were wearing dark coloured clothing.

One of the occupants, a 37-year old woman, was knocked to the floor during the attack and sustained bruising and a shoulder injury for which she was treated at East Surrey Hospital.

Detective Constable Mark Buckley said;

“We have been making extensive local enquiries and are still seeking witnesses who were in the area that afternoon, particularly around Punch Copse Road or surrounding roads, and including anyone who was using dashcam in their own car at the time.”

If you have any information please contact us via 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or call 101, quoting serial 904 of 22/11.

You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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