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Drug runners jailed after £200,000 of cannabis seized

PUBLISHED: 14:35 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 09:32 23 August 2010

TWO drug runners caught with £200,000 worth of cannabis were jailed after cops trailed them on a journey from the north of England. Leonard Thurgood, 55, of Lewis Road, Istead Rise, Gravesend, and Mustafa Zihini, 23, of Limewood Close, Beckenham, both a

TWO drug runners caught with £200,000 worth of cannabis were jailed after cops trailed them on a journey from the north of England.

Leonard Thurgood, 55, of Lewis Road, Istead Rise, Gravesend, and Mustafa Zihini, 23, of Limewood Close, Beckenham, both admitted on Wednesday, March 27 at Southwark Crown Court that they had previously conspired to supply drugs.

The men were arrested at a service station on their way back from Warrington, Cheshire, on November 30 last year, after picking up 70 kilos of cannabis.

Despite changing cars to avoid detection and pulling in at several service stations, the dealers were caught when they stopped to inspect their illegal goods.

When arrested, Thurgood, who was given a five-year sentence, told officers: "All this for 70 kilos of puff." His co-driver, Zihini, received an 18-month sentence.

Judge Christopher Hardy told them: "You were involved in the important but risky expedition to convey 70 kilos of cannabis from North West England to the South East.

"You were, in that operation, caught red-handed and you pleaded guilty as, of course, you had to."

Police later searched Thurgood's home and uncovered rounds of ammunition hidden in a sock as well as a fake passport.

The drug criminal, who has a string of past convictions, claimed he had merely 'inherited' the ammunition from the person who previously rented his flat.

The court heard Thurgood was in charge of the operation while Zahini got involved to try and pay off gambling debts.

A third man, David Freeman, of Beechwood Drive, Culverstone Green, was involved as a 'navigator' and received a three-and-a-half year sentence.

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