London bombings hero firefighter jailed for drug ring role

6th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

A firefighter who rescued victims of the 2005 London bombings has been jailed for 14 years for his role in a huge cocaine-smuggling ring in Britain, officials revealed Wednesday.

Simon Ford won an award from the London fire brigade after risking his life to get victims off a bus that was blown up during the suicide attacks that hit the capital.

But the former drug addict, 41, is now in prison after admitting to being a key player in a network of underworld crime gangs which flooded southeast England with drugs.

The attacks of July 7, 2005, on three trains and a bus, killed 52 passengers and were the largest ever terror attacks on British soil.

Ford is one of 33 criminals linked to the huge drug operation to be jailed, with the gang receiving a total of more than 200 years in prison for offences including conspiracy to supply cocaine and money laundering.

The convictions could only be reported on Wednesday after the last sentence was handed down and reporting restrictions were lifted.

Ford was caught red-handed at his flat in Chertsey, just outside London, dividing cocaine worth around 5.5 million pounds (8.5 million dollars, 6.5 million euros) during a police raid in 2008.

He had been planning to deliver the cocaine -- which had been dumped in waterproof packages on a beach the previous night for collection -- to couriers stationed around the British capital for onward distribution.

The drug operation, which netted the ringleaders more than 100 million pounds, was run out of a rundown but heavily-fortified taxi garage in central London.

Royal Oak Taxis received huge consignments of cocaine ready for repackaging and distribution and served as a money laundering centre for crooks who swapped bags of pounds sterling for smaller 500 euro notes.

"These criminals had been living the lives of wealthy businessmen through their criminal activity," said Detective Superintendent Steve Richardson, head of the Special Intelligence Section at London's Metropolitan Police.

"The lives they are now leading could not be more different."

© 2011 AFP

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