Cocaine in telly pair jailed

Court hears dealer seen by police delivering over half a ton of ‘coke’ to house in East Ham

TWO men caught with a kilo of cocaine, which was smuggled into the UK inside a TV set, have been jailed.

Honier Andres Ruiz Benitez, 37, took delivery of the package posted from Peru at his home in Manor Park.

Within minutes, fellow Colombian Omar Wilson Cardenas Gaviria, 38, arrived in his Toyota Avensis and both loaded the illicit cargo into the boot.

But police had the pair under surveillance and had tracked Gaviria from his then-home in White Horse Road, East Ham.

He was stopped on June 11 a short distance from Benitez’s home in Little Ilford Lane, where officers seized the TV stuffed with high-purity cocaine.

Snaresbrook Crown Court heard that Gaviria had also been observed by police delivering more than half a kilo of cocaine in Vicarage Lane, East Ham, on February 11.

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The judge, Mr Recorder Nigel Lambert, QC, jailed Gaviria for four years and Benitez for three years and nine months.

The judge said it was a “sad case” of two working family men lured into the underworld of drug importation.

“You are both decent men who were working on low incomes and had never been in trouble before,” he said.

“There are others like you who are targeted by wicked individuals who make a huge amount of money from Class A and other drugs.”

The defendants’ families and supporters wept uncontrollably in the public gallery as the sentences were handed down.

Both men will not face deportation after serving their sentences as they also hold Spanish EU passports.

Gaviria, now of Forest View Road, Manor Park, and Benitez both admitted conspiracy to fraudulently evade prohibition on the import of a class A drug.

Gaviria further admitted supplying a controlled drug of class A to another.