Former City worker turned drug-dealer jailed after huge cocaine stash found hidden in van


City worker turned drug dealer has been jailed for hiding cocaine worth millions in a secret compartment in a white van.

Joe Sawyer, 26, who was employed at investment giant Schroders, admitted involvement in supplying £6million of Class A drugs after being tracked by undercover police in London.

Officers uncovered 49 kilos of the drug after searching the vehicle, as well as homes and cars belonging to Sawyer’s accomplices Lazarus Loizides, 27, and Robert Beckley, 31.

Expensive designer watches and shopping receipts from Harrods were also found.

Last October, Loizides was seen outside Sawyer’s home in South Woodford, east London, taking two large Sports Direct bags out of his car, which appeared to be heavy to carry.

He put both bags into the back of a van that he earlier arrived in before driving off in the black vehicle.

Met Specialist Crime detectives followed Loizides before arresting him in Islington, north London.

He had a large quantity of cash and a “burner” phone. Under one of the rear seats was a sophisticated hide.

Officers searched Loizides’ address in Chelmsford, Essex, where they found three kilos of cocaine, cash totalling more than £55,000, several designer watches and a number of receipts for high value purchases at Harrods.

When Sawyer was arrested 45 minutes later, officers found the keys to the white van that Loizides had initially arrived in and opened it.

Inside they found two Sports Direct bags. One contained 24 one-kilo bricks of cocaine. The second bag was empty. Underneath the floor, in the rear, was a concealed hide which had a further 17 one-kilo bricks of cocaine.

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One of the bags that was discovered by police containing bricks of cocaine

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One of the bags that was discovered by police containing bricks of cocaine

/ Met Police

Beckley was followed by detectives onto the M25 where he was stopped by marked cars. A blue holdall in the passenger footwell was found to contain another five kilos of cocaine.

In total, 49 kilos of cocaine were seized with an estimated street value of almost £6million.

The trio were charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. Loizides was further charged with possession of criminal property in relation to the cash seized.

All three pleaded guilty when they appeared at Snaresbrook Crown Court. Loizides was jailed for 11 years at the same court.

Sawyer received eight years, while Beckley, of West Malling, Kent, was sentenced to four years and four months in prison.

Detective Chief Inspector Driss Hayoukane, of the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said: “The lengths these men went to try and conceal their criminal activities by having secret hides in their cars is not something an everyday person would even think to consider.

“But, then again, most everyday person wouldn’t even consider transporting almost 50 kilos of cocaine in their vehicles.

“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, we are committed to putting handcuffs on those involved in drugs supply offences and making sure that they spend a significant amount of time in prison.”

A Schroders spokesman said Sawyer was dismissed for gross misconduct following his arrest. He had been with the company for just over 14 months but had worked in financial services for eight years.

Evening Standard – Chelmsford