Guardia Civil officers had followed a van from a house in Alhaurín el Grande. File image. / sur

British lorry driver to serve six years in Spanish jail after drugs worth 1.2 million euros found in his vehicle

The man, who also faces a 3,124,800 euro fine, told the court that he did not know what was in the boxes, which were loaded into his vehicle in his presence on the Costa del Sol one evening

Ivan Gelibter
IVAN GELIBTER

The Andalucía High Court (TSJA) has rejected an appeal by a British man who was found guilty of drugs offences, and ordered him to serve a six and a half year jail sentence and pay a fine of 3,124,800 euros.

The case dates back to 1 June 2020, when Spain had come out of the Covid-19 lockdown but many restrictions on mobility were still in force. The Guardia Civil had been investigating a suspected drugs case and believed a house on an industrial estate in Alhaurín el Grande was being used as a base by traffickers. When they saw a hired van drive out of the premises they followed it, and it led them to Venta Pula, in a fairly isolated spot in the municipality of Ojén.

There, they saw that a lorry was already parked outside. This was about 8.30pm. According to the court documents, “persons unknown” then unloaded numerous boxes from the van into the lorry before driving off. The officers moved in at that point and told the British lorry driver they wanted to search the vehicle.

When they opened it, they found that it contained nothing but the boxes, and those were full of packages of cocaine, marijuana and hashish with a market value of over one million euros. The driver, who is also the joint owner of the lorry with his wife, was arrested.

Owner "didn't know" what was in the boxes

The British man appealed against his original prison sentence because he said he had no idea what was in the boxes: he said his company had been contracted to transport something to the UK and normal due diligence had been carried out, so it was not his responsibility to check the contents.

The court who first heard his case was not convinced by this argument, and said that anybody who places themselves in a situation of deliberate ignorance must automatically accept the consequences.

The Andalusian High Court judge agreed, and ordered that he should serve his prison term and pay the fine.