Halifax man used vehicles fitted with secret compartments to deliver drugs as part of highly-sophisticated crime network

A Halifax man who used two vehicles fitted with secret compartments to deliver drugs and cash as part of highly-sophisticated crime network has been jailed for eight years.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 2:11 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th March 2021, 3:06 pm

The Vauxhall Combo van and VW Passat seized by West Yorkshire police last December will now be forfeited and prosecutor James Lake said they could be used to educate other police forces.

Ben Hardy, 29, who had no previous convictions, was arrested last December after police stopped the Vauxhall panel van he was driving on Victoria Road in Elland.

Bradford Crown Court heard today that officers found a specially fitted hydraulic compartment behind the bulkhead which was capable to storing large items.

Ben Hardy has been jailed

During a search of Hardy’s home at Riley Lane, Illingworth, officers recovered about 1.7 kilograms of high purity heroin from his bedroom and the garage together with £6000 in cash and about half-a-kilo of cannabis.

Mr Lake said the drugs were “the tip of the iceberg” because Hardy had kept meticulous records of drug deliveries and cash payments in various notebooks and ledgers.

Mr Lake said Hardy was a highly trusted and important member of an organised crime group rather than simply a courier.

He said the defendant had been involved in the delivery of massive quantities of cash and drugs and had also been chasing up debts and payments from customers.

The court heard that the VW Passat also had a secret compartment for concealing drugs and Hardy’s records showed he had delivered 30kgs of cocaine in September last year with similar amounts in October and November.

Although the prosecution submitted that Hardy could have delivered well over 100kgs of cocaine during a 12-month period, Recorder Tahir Khan QC sentenced him on the basis that he had been using the vehicles between May and December 2020.

Hardy pleaded guilty to charges of possessing cocaine and cannabis with intent to supply and the judge said the high-purity levels of the cocaine was an aggravating feature because it indicated it was being handled very close to the point of importation.

Recorder Khan said the dealer lists and ledgers of stock recovered by the police indicated that Hardy had been involved in “a sophisticated and lucrative Class A drug supply network.”

The judge pointed out that Hardy had recorded a delivery of 11kgs of cocaine to one customer in November and in October last year he had made a delivery of £130,000 in cash to his “boss”.

“The scale of the operation and your role in it was such that you were provided with a VW Passat and a van both adapted with secret compartments for the concealment of drugs and cash,” said the judge.

“I am satisfied so that I am sure that this was your full-time job and I reject your evidence that your only reward was to have your drug debt reduced. I am satisfied you were being paid for your work.

“There is no evidence to suggest anything other than you were a willing participant in this drug dealing operation.”