A DUTCHMAN jailed for 17 years after attempting to smuggle cocaine into the UK hidden in a horsebox has been ordered to hand over £217,000.
Marinus Van Gerwen, aged 54, was given 28 days to pay or face a further two years in prison.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation started when officers stopped Van Gerwen as he arrived at Dover Eastern Docks driving a horsebox on 13 July 2017.
Fifty one kilo blocks of cocaine were found hidden in a purpose-built concealment in the wall of the horsebox. The cocaine had an estimated street value of £3.96 million.
There were also two horses in the back which were collected by a horse transportation company and taken to a vet.
Van Gerwen denied all knowledge of the drugs and claimed the purpose of his journey was to deliver the horses to a female associate in Binfield, Bracknell.
The man was the father of a showjumper and took up crime to fund his daughter’s career, a court heard.
Following his arrest, Dutch Police raided Van Gerwen’s house in Limbricht, Netherlands, and seized €270,000 in cash. His benefit figure was calculated from this cash, and excluded the money which was found to not belong to him.
Van Gerwen was found guilty of importing cocaine and was sentenced to 17 years on 24 January 2018 at Canterbury Crown Court. The confiscation hearing, at the same court, took place last week.
NCA Senior Investigating Officer Darren Herbert said: “Organised crime groups rely heavily on smugglers like Van Gerwen. He was bringing in substantial amounts of drugs into the UK, which will have fuelled exploitation and violence on the streets.
“Pursuing confiscation orders on top of criminal convictions means a double whammy of being hit in the pocket while also serving time in prison. If Van Gerwen doesn’t pay he’ll stay in there for two more years and still owe the money.”