Resort pilot has his cocaine smuggling ring brought down
A SOUTHPORT pilot who conspired to fly drugs across the channel has had his empire brought down by the National Crime Agency.
Philip Molyneux, 51, from Southport had conspired along with two other men to deliver a consignment of cocaine in a light aircraft across the English channel from northern France.
Molyneux, who was once a familiar face at Woodvale airfield, was caught before he could make ‘the drop’ by French customs as his plane was ready to take off at a French airfield.
They found 12 kilos of cocaine and a kilo of heroin in a bag stowed on board. Its estimated the haul had a street value of £1.2 million.
The French had been alerted after British authorities noted suspicious activity involving the aircraft, which was rented from a firm in Lancashire.
Following his arrest the French authorities found calls and messages on Molyneux’s phone from numbers which were later linked by the NCA to his co-conspirators.
One read ‘Ring me Phil, what the f*** going on?’ while another stated: ‘Get [back] to me asap’.
Molyneux is currently in prison in France and will serve a five year sentence.
After his trial the French passed evidence regarding his contacts with individuals in the UK to the NCA.
As a result the NCA were able to trace and catch his accomplices, Wayne Coates, 49, from Wigan and Jamie Sharples, 30, from Bolton,.
The pair had been due to collect the delivery of class A drugs from Molyneux at an airfield near Clacton in Essex.
Jon Hughes, from the NCA’s North West Border Investigation team, said: “This has been a long and complicated investigation, but the result is that these men who were involved in bringing class A drugs to the north west, are behind bars.
“Two accomplices planned to use Philip Molyneux’s skills as a pilot to evade border controls, and we were able to provide evidence that the same group was likely to have been involved in previous drug runs.
“Cocaine and heroin fuel violence, exploitation and crime on the streets in the UK.
“By working closely with Border Force and our French colleagues we have been able to prevent further criminality and protect the public.”
Border Force, the NCA and UK police forces are involved in Project Pegasus, a multi-agency campaign encouraging people living and working close to small airports to report unusual activity associated with general aviation.
General aviation includes aircraft such as microlights, helicopters, and business jets, and activities such as aerial surveys, deliveries, corporate flights and leisure flying.
[Copyright By Ollie Cowan]