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Huyton ferry chef used P&O job to run lucrative Dutch cocaine smuggling plot

A P&O ferry worker from Liverpool used his job to help city drugs gangs smuggle cocaine into the UK.

Mark Quilliam played a crucial role in the lucrative enterprise, arranging for colleague Eddie Tron to collect illicit packages from the Netherlands.

Tron would then take advantage of lax security checks on ferry staff to sneak past officials at either end of the journey.

Quilliam, of Gladica Close in Huyton, was busted as part of an undercover sting sparked by the conviction of fellow employee Jonathan Heald.

Mark Quilliam, of Gladica Close in Huyton, 55, has been found guilty of conspiracy to import Class A drugs. Image courtesy of the NCA

Heald was jailed for money laundering after being found with £60,000 of criminal cash back in 2013.

That led to a National Crime Agency probe into the ferry smuggling operation that saw an undercover officer befriend Tron.

Confiding in the officer, the 51-year-old revealed how he and Heald had been working together to import drugs from the Netherlands.

The drugs crook also unwittingly informed detectives about Quilliam, who worked as a chef on another ship for the same company, naming the 55-year-old as a point of contact with criminal groups in Liverpool and suppliers in the Netherlands.

Tron bragged he had made thousands of pounds from every trip, but said work had dried up since Heald’s arrest.

He told the officer: “I started making some money, serious f***ing money. And then it stopped cos of a lad being greedy.”

Footage of drugs smuggler ferry worker Eddie Tron walking past security checks. Courtesy of NCA

Financial checks later showed that Tron and his wife Susan, 54, deposited almost £140,000 in cash in three bank accounts held by the couple between 2009 and 2015. Many of the deposits were made in bank branches in Liverpool.

Tron then tried to recruit the undercover officer to work on future plots, telling him: “We’ll have to go ashore in Rotterdam… and you would meet a kid and he would give you something. And then just bring it on and then, this side, I would take it off.”

Ferry drugs smuggler Eddie Tron was arrested on board the Pride of Hull. Image courtesy of the NCA

He also explained how he planned to conceal the drugs, using work jackets:

“I give him my coat, my coat’s got f*** all in it, he gives me a coat with four kilos in or whatever it is. Then, when we get off in Hull, same thing. So, all you’re doing is passing the coat.”

In April 2015 Tron travelled to Rotterdam to make direct contact with drug traffickers.

His trip was being watched by Dutch police but, while Tron was seen getting into a car, the driver appeared to become suspicious and drove off at high speed, losing the police.


Several weeks later Tron met Quilliam at a pub in Hull.

He later told the undercover officer how Quilliam had said his contacts would not use Eddie for any more importations because of what had happened in Rotterdam.

On September 30, 2015, Eddie Tron was arrested by NCA officers on board the Pride of Hull.

His wife and Quilliam were detained at their home addresses.

Susan Tron, 54, of Carr Hill Road, Gateshead, was found guilty of money laundering.

Eddie Tron claimed he had made up stories about drug smuggling, and everything he told the undercover officer had been “fantasy”.

His wife claimed the money that had been paid into her bank account had been from gambling wins.

But today a jury at Hull Crown Court found Eddie Tron, of Carr Hill Road in Gateshead and Mark Quilliam guilty of conspiring to import class A drugs.

Susan Tron, also of Car Hill Road, was found guilty of money laundering.

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