Brothers in court over £50m cocaine plot

Two brothers have appeared in court accused of involvement in a plot to smuggle £50m of cocaine into the UK on a private jet from Colombia.

Martin and Stephen Neil, from Poole in Dorset, were charged along with two Spaniards and an Italian national after half a tonne (500kg) of the Class A drug, spread across 15 suitcases, was seized from the twin-engined aircraft at Farnborough Airport on Monday.

National Crime Agency operations manager Siobhan Micklethwaite has said the seizure was “one of the largest flown into the UK by plane in many years”.

The twin-engined jet which was carrying half a tonne of cocaine

Image: The twin-engined jet which was carrying half a tonne of cocaine

The brothers stood together at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday and entered no pleas to a charge of attempting to import cocaine, which is alleged to have been flown in from the Colombian capital Bogota.

The court heard how Martin Neil, 48, had been working on a residential project in the upmarket Sandbanks area of Poole.

His 53-year-old brother, also a bricklayer, was not currently working.

Border Force officers seized suitcases containing cocaine worth more than £50 million at Farnborough Airport

Image: Border Force officers seized suitcases containing cocaine worth more than £50 million at Farnborough Airport

Italian kitchen worker Alessandro Iembo, 28, who lives in Bournemouth, and Spaniards Victor Franco-Lorenzo and Jose Ramon Miguelez-Botas are facing the same charge.

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Franco-Lorenzo, 40, also lives in Bournemouth, while Miguelez-Botas gave an address in Spain. Both spoke via an interpreter.

Iembo was the only man to enter a plea – not guilty – and all five were remanded in custody to appear at Isleworth Crown Court on 1 March.