West Yorkshire: Fugitive drug trafficker jailed

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A fugitive drug trafficker was finally jailed today for flooding British streets with cocaine before going on the run for three years.

Edward Morton, 37, fled Britain after arrest and became one of Europe’s most wanted drugs importers as he hid in Amsterdam.

He was rearrested in Leeds last year and has received a 24-year prison term for bringing “significant amounts” of cocaine into the UK.

Morton was recaptured in a major operation between the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), Dutch authorities and West Yorkshire Police, Leeds Crown Court heard.

His gang, from West Yorkshire, Northamptonshire and the Midlands, trafficked cocaine from Holland in 2007, regularly changing their mobile telephones to keep police at bay.

Morton regularly drove to Holland, made collections and brought them back into the UK in a hidden compartment of his van.

Gerry Smyth, of Soca, welcomed the tough sentence handed out to Morton.

He said: “Morton tried to evade justice by hiding in Amsterdam - he failed. Soca and its national and international partners are determined to bring fugitives back to the UK courts to face justice.”

Six other gang members - Anthony Barrett, Michael Smith, Maurice Quinn, Robert Barrett, Stephen Wood and Frederick Griffiths - were sentenced to a total of 82 years after pleading guilty to drug trafficking offences in 2008.

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

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