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Removal firm trio convicted of £4.5m plot to smuggle drugs sealed in fish tanks

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T

hree men in their 60s and 70s have been convicted of using their removal firm as a front for an international drug smuggling conspiracy.

A sting by the National Crime Agency (NCA) using covert listening devices caught the trio plotting in a cafe to import 55kg of class A drugs with a street value of £4.5 million.

Mark Youell, 64, from Clacton-on-Sea Essex was recorded telling his partners Alfred Rumbold, 65, from Orpington Kent and 73-year-old Brian Wright: “We’re gonna hit the jackpot” and that they were going to make “f****** mega dough”.

All three have been found guilty of conspiring to import class A drugs following a trial at Isleworth Crown Court.

They will be sentenced on November 26.

An NCA spokesman said: “During the period of the conspiracy, the trio had a series of clandestine meetings with a Merseyside-based organised crime group who wanted to import class A drugs utilising Rolls Royce-driving Wright’s legitimate removals company.

“The previous day Wright had returned from conducting a ‘dummy run’, taking his lorry out to the Netherlands. He made a series of notes around border checks and security on his phone as he returned.

“The following week Wright made the run for real, collecting the drugs, which had been sealed inside fish tanks.

“However, as part of a joint operation involving the NCA and Dutch law enforcement, the truck was raided just outside Utrecht. Wright, who was sleeping inside, was arrested.

“The drugs were seized from their hiding place, with Dutch police recovering 20.5 kilos of heroin, 32 kilos of cocaine and three kilos of MDMA.

“At the same time NCA officers moved in on Youell and Rumbold, arresting them at their home addresses. Phones seized included a number of Encrochat and Sky ECC encrypted devices.”

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Manish Sisodia warns Delhi residents on new covid variant, Omicron | Latest News India

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Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Sunday said the government was concerned about the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, and had asked various departments to accelerate the enhancement of infrastructure in the capital.

“In the context of the new covid variant, both worry and fear are important. The government is also concerned about the new variant. We have called for the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) meeting. At the same time, the health department and other administrative departments are on high alert once again. We have alerted everyone and asked them to enhance the infrastructure with an accelerated speed now,” Sisodia said during a press briefing on Sunday.

The new variant of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – has been named Omicron by World Health Organisation (WHO). The variant, B.1.1.529, was first reported from South Africa to the WHO, which has tagged it as a ‘variant of concern’.

Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s high-level meeting held on Saturday to review the present Covid situation, the Union health ministry has alerted all states and Union territories to buckle up and enforce intensive containment, active surveillance and maximum vaccine coverage.

Also Read: Gautam Gambhir receives another threat letter, third one in a week

Requesting people to avoid unnecessary interactions, Sisodia said one should assume that the variant might be present in the city already. “Even if one person with the new variant enters Delhi, it will not take much time to spread. We should assume that someone with the variant might have entered Delhi and the virus might be spreading among some people. However, we pray that this is not the case,” said Sisodia.

On Saturday, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop flights from the countries affected by the omicron variant. “I urge Hon’ble PM to stop flights from those countries which are affected by the new variant. With great difficulty, our country has recovered from Corona. We should do everything possible to prevent this new variant from entering India,” the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief wrote on Twitter.

The new variant, believed to be more transmissible and immune-evasive, has prompted countries to impose travel restrictions. Apart from Botswana, Hong Kong, South Africa, the new variant has now been detected in the UK, Australia, Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Isreal, the Netherlands etc.

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Covid-19 fallout: Flight to New York remains a dream

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Propelled by a hedonistic whim, I fancied a celebratory sojourn in New York soon after retirement, which was due on September 30, 2019. Undeterred by hearsay that getting a US visa was an uphill task, I downloaded the DS-160 webpage to apply for a visitor visa on the verge of retirement. Interviews for the US visa are held at their embassy in New Delhi and consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad. As I hailed from Chandigarh, I chose the US Embassy in New Delhi, as also the first available date for the interview.

The long queue at the gate of the US embassy signalled tough competition. Absorbed in observing the body language of fellow aspirants in the queue, I inched forward for security check. After the rigorous frisking, I was ushered into the interview hall to wait for my name to be called. There were many interview counters on one side of the hall. One applicant was called at a time at each of the counters. The expression of dejection or rejoice on the candidates’ face at the end of their interview indicated rejection or approval of their application. The withholding of passport by the embassy symbolised approval.

Eventually, my turn came. I responded confidently to the lucid queries, asked gently, about my job, the reasons for a US visit, my stay arrangements in the US, etc. The consular officer, an affable lady, concluded with a smile, “OK, Mr Gupta, you will receive your passport after a couple of days”. I thanked her courteously, beaming. The due diligence in filling in the D-160 electronic application had paid the dividends, I surmised. A few days after the interview and before my retirement, I was overwhelmed with exhilaration upon receiving my passport with the US visa affixed therein.

Initially, I intended to go to the US in October 2019 itself. But an NRI friend convinced me that the best season to travel to New York would be the spring season, which is the April-June quarter. So, the next year in February, I booked the flight to New York for the end of April 2020. Feeling upbeat, I started browsing the internet for a suitable hotel in Manhattan. Though the initial news about Covid-19 had started trickling, I never imagined it would jeopardise my trip. By each passing day, the threat of the pandemic started looming larger. Before the end of March 2020, all scheduled international flights out of India had been suspended. India was placed under prolonged lockdown. My air ticket was left in abeyance.

When Covid appeared to be abating by February 2021, I rescheduled my trip for NYC for the first half of May 2021. As if my trip was jinxed, the second wave of Covid, more lethal than before, struck our country at that very juncture. Scheduled international flights continued to be in suspension month after month. Broken-hearted, I finally requested the airline to cancel my ticket and refund the amount, which they graciously did. Covid-19 sure did shatter my post-retirement foreign dream as it would have done in the case of million others. [email protected]

The writer is a Panchkula-based retired banker

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Dead Space Remake: Release date, trailer, gameplay, PC requirements

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Fans have begged and begged for the Dead Space franchise to come back to life, and EA has finally decided to listen (only because there’s a boat-load of money to be had), but regardless, the Dead Space Remake is real.

There hasn’t been a lot revealed about the Dead Space Remake, but we have at least one trailer so far and a potential release date as well as some story and gameplay details. Are you ready to head back to the USG Ishimura?

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