A man who hid 50kgs of MDMA in the panels of his car told investigators he was going to a classic car auction at Silverstone.
Dutch national Ewout Groenenboom’s haul of class A drugs had a street value of £2M.
He was stopped on 28 July 2016 at the UK Control Zone in Coquelles, France, as he waited to board a train after driving from Rotterdam.
Groenenboom, aged 57, from Rotterdam, who was driving a 2002-registered Volkswagen Polo, claimed he was going to a three-day auction but was only looking and would not be buying anything.
He did not have a ticket for the auction or a hotel reservation for his stay and had booked a return train for three days later.
Border Force officers searched the hatchback and discovered 13 one kilogram packages in a side panel; 11 packages hidden in the rear quarter panel and 26 one kilogram packages in the spare wheel well under the boot mat.
Enquiries showed there was a classic car event at Silverstone that weekend.
He was convicted after a three-day trial at Canterbury Crown Court of importing class A drugs and has been sentenced to 18 years in jail.
National Crime Agency investigating officer David Coe said: “Groenenboom’s lies about enjoying a few days at Silverstone were obvious from the start.
“The search of his car yielded a very large amount of MDMA and its recovery was a blow to organised crime between Holland and the UK.”
Paul Morgan, director of Border Force south east and Europe said: “Groenenboom had gone to significant trouble to secrete a vast quantity of illegal and harmful drugs in his vehicle.
“Thanks to the professionalism and expertise of Border Force officers working at our border controls in northern France his smuggling attempt was unsuccessful.
“Border Force works closely with law enforcement colleagues, including the NCA, to keep the public safe and the country secure.
“We are determined to keep dangerous substances off the UK’s streets and put the drug traffickers responsible behind bars.”