A FORMER Poulton man has been jailed for his part in a £134m cocaine smuggling racket.
And police have pledged to hunt down John Alan Brooks’ cash.
Former car dealer Brooks was the ringleader behind a plot to smuggle 1.5 tonnes of the drug into the UK – the culmination of a criminal career stretching back almost 30 years.
The 61-year-old, who lived in Garstang Road East, Poulton, before fleeing to Marbella, evaded justice for three years after the luxury yacht Dances with Waves and her crew were seized along with the massive estimated £134m drugs haul en route to Liverpool in 2008.
But the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) – dubbed Britain’s FBI – finally got their man when he returned to Marton to visit family in November last year.
He was locked up on Monday for 28 years after being found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine at Birmingham Crown Court.
SOCA described Brooks, who had been living the high-life in a million Euro Spanish villa, as an “international fixer” with links to organised crime gangs worldwide. He had previously evaded justice by escaping from a Moroccan prison. It is believed he fled from Africa to Europe by crossing the Gibraltar straits on a jet ski.
Sentencing Brooks at
Birmingham Crown Court Mr Recorder Sanghera said: “You have been convicted of a very serious offence, of the trafficking of a large amount of Class A drugs into this country
“You have similar convictions in other countries the evidence I have heard leads me to believe you have played a leading role in this conspiracy.
“Your involvement was with no other just cause other than greed and I believe you pose a significant risk to the public.”
Brooks is known to have had addresses previously in both the Common Edge Road area of Blackpool, around Poulton, and in Lytham and St Annes.
Dances with Waves was intercepted in November 2008 as she travelled to the UK from Trinidad by the Irish Authorities, as part of a multi-agency operation led by SOCA.
Brooks had been responsible for assembling the crew to charter the luxury yacht, which he bought in Trinidad using a false identity.
The yacht had stopped in Venezuelan waters before heading for Liverpool, but she was intercepted after she got into difficulty around 170 miles off the Irish coast.
SOCA’s regional head of investigations Matt Horne added: “Brooks was the go-to man for organised crime groups as he was an expert in arranging the transportation of huge quantities of drugs.
“His criminal career stretches back 30 years, during which time he has travelled extensively using false identities and has been imprisoned on a number of occasions.
“Now he’s back in prison where he belongs and we’re going after his money.”
After he has served his UK sentence the French authorities are waiting to extradite Brooks to serve a 13-year jail term which dates back to 1996, when he was sentenced in his absence after 4.2 tonnes of cannabis was seized.