Doncaster Drug Baron Plotted Deal behind Bars

A Doncaster man who plotted to get tonnes of cocaine from Columbia into the UK whilst in prison looks set to do more time.

38 year old Russell Knaggs, helped organise the plan to import five tonnes of the drug from Colombia via Costa Rica, the USA, and Germany, from his cell at Lowdham Grange Prison in Nottinghamshire, where he was already serving a 16-year sentence for drug trafficking.

He and his gang referred to the plan as a “plastering job” to avoid being caught, but were unaware they were being monitored by the authorities.

Knaggs and two other men - 52 year old Phillip Hadley, from New Hill, Conisbrough, Doncaster, and 40 year old  Robert Rich, from Burton Road in Barnsley - have been found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

A fourth man, 51 year old Anthony Perger, from Hall Road in Sheffield, previously pleaded guilty to the same charge. All four will be sentenced at the same court on March 2.

Their plan was to ship cocaine in batches from Colombia to Costa Rica where it would be concealed in consignments of fruit.

They failed, after losing the down payment on the first batch of cocaine when their Colombian contact was gunned down by a rival cartel. Despite further attempts, Knaggs eventually called things off.

The gang was unaware the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and its partners were monitoring them in the UK.

All four men were arrested and charged within months of Knaggs' release in June 2010. Gerry Smyth, SOCA's North East Regional Head of Investigations, said national and international partnerships were vital in tackling the drug chain.

Three other men were cleared by the jury of the same charge of conspiracy to import cocaine.