modified Bentley
The modified Bentley used by the criminal gang. NCA

Members of a drug gang have been jailed for a total of more than 100 years for their parts in a sophisticated plot to smuggle high-grade cocaine into Britain using the roof of a customised Bentley.

The gang modified the luxury car, a £130,000 Bentley Flying Spur, so they could conceal the Class A drug and more than £100,000 in cash. Some of that was hidden in secret compartments in the car's roof.

Blackfriars Crown Court heard how Florentino Gonzalez, 48, Eduia Abazi, 31, and Bajram Elezi, 34, hid more than 30kg of the drug.

Gonzalez drove the Bentley from Belgium to the UK and parked in an underground car park at the Marlin Apartments, Southwark, to meet London-based dealers and exchange the drugs for cash.

Gonzalez, who had claimed to be visiting Britain to set up a wine company and a cafe, also left the car at the Britannia International Hotel in Canary Wharf while he met Armand Cuni, 39, and Abazi on 5 September 2016.

An investigation by the joint NCA and Metropolitan Police Organised Crime Partnership observed two separate exchanges in the car park between Abazi and Elezi with Cuni and Yelton Cera, 26.

Both Elezi and Cera were arrested as they left the car park in possession of a total of 18kg of cocaine.

Eurotunnel records showed that the Bentley travelled to the UK a total of 13 times in 2016, said the NCA.

Bentley roof
The roof of the Bentley Flying Spur which was modified to carry drugs. NCA

On one of these trips, in August, Gonzales delivered cocaine to Saimir Byberi, 30, who was later jailed for 15 years.

The cocaine seized had an estimated value of nearly £1m but a potential likely street value of around £3.6m.

Florentino Gonzalez
Florentino Gonzalez drove the Bentley with a secret roof space to smuggle cocaine into the UK. NCA

Elezi, Gonzalez and Abazi were found guilty following a five-week trial.

Heather Strangoe, prosecuting, said: "This was a sophisticated process whereby imported cocaine was distributed to the driver or their courier in return for cash payments and using apartments for the purpose of the exchanges."

Jailing the gang, Recorder Christopher Sallon said: "This is a long-running conspiracy and a sophisticated commercial operation to distribute very large qualities of cocaine ranging from 88 to 93 per cent purity."