A NOTORIOUS criminal who allegedly fled custody on a jet-ski has been jailed for 28 years after masterminding a multi-million pound cocaine smuggling operation.
Blackpool man John Alan Brooks was the ringleader behind a plot to smuggle 1.5 tonnes of cocaine into the UK - the culmination of criminal career stretching back almost 30 years.
The 61-year-old, who is originally from the resort but had been living in Marbella, evaded justice for three years after the luxury yacht Dances with Waves and her crew were seized along with the massive estimated £134m drugs haul en route to Liverpool in 2008.
But the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) finally got their man when he returned to Marton to visit family in November last year - and yesterday he was locked up for 28 years after being found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine at Birmingham Crown Court.
SOCA - dubbed Britain’s FBI - today described Brooks, a former Fylde coast car dealer who had been living the high-life in a million euro Spanish villa, as an “international fixer” with links to organised crime gangs worldwide.
Sentencing Brooks at Birmingham Crown Court Mr Recorder Sanghera said: “You have been convicted of a very serious offence, of the trafficking of a large amount of class A drugs into this country
“You have similar convictions in other countries the evidence I have heard leads me to believe you have played a leading role in this conspiracy and you have a leading role in drug trafficking in general.
“Your involvement was with no other just cause other than greed and I believe you pose a significant risk to the public.”
Dances with Waves was intercepted in November 2008 as she travelled to the UK from Trinidad by the Irish Authorities, as part of a multi-agency operation led by SOCA.
Brooks - who allegedly escaped a 10-year sentence in a Moroccan prison by escaping from justice by jet-skiing back to Europe from Africa in 2000 - had been responsible for assembling the crew to charter the luxury yacht, which he bought in Trinidad using a false identity.
The yacht had stopped in Venezuelan waters before heading for Liverpool, but she was intercepted after she got into difficulty around 170 miles off the Irish coast.
FULL STORY, SEE TUESDAY’S GAZETTE.