Portadown man jailed for smuggling cocaine from Brazil into NI

Valdir Medeiros Da SilvaImage copyright

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Valdir Medeiros Da Silva is a Brazilian national but was living in County Armagh

A man has been jailed after he attempted to smuggle three kilos of cocaine into Belfast from Brazil.

Valdir Medeiros Da Silva, 48, from Deramore Drive, Portadown, was caught by Border Force at Belfast City Airport on 23 December 2018.

The Brazilian had concealed the class A drug – worth an estimated £350,000 – in the lining of his suitcase.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said it was one of the biggest ever drugs seizures at the airport.

David Cunningham, branch commander of the NCA office in Belfast, said that “with a street value of more than £350,000, the profits would no doubt have gone on to fund other criminal activity”.

He added: “Drug smugglers like Da Silva perpetuate serious violence which spreads through the supply chain in dealing class A drugs.”

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Da Silva had flown from Sao Paulo to Belfast via London Heathrow.

A search of his luggage led to the discovery of a hidden compartment which appeared to be “professionally constructed” and contained 89% pure cocaine, the NCA said.

An investigation found that Da Silva, who is unemployed, had only booked the hand luggage-only flights to Brazil two days earlier and he had paid for the tickets in cash.

In interviews he claimed to have been to Brazil to visit his sick mother and had paid for the trip by doing cash-in-hand jobs.

Da Silva pleaded guilty to importing a class A drug at Belfast Crown Court last October.

He was given a seven-and-a-half-year sentence on Monday.

He will serve the first half in prison and the second half on licence.

BBC News

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