Video footage has shown the moment a P&O Ferry worker was sitting on the toilet when police burst in and arrested him for cocaine smuggling.
Edward Tron, 51, smuggled tens of thousands of pounds worth of cocaine into UK from the Netherlands aboard the Pride of Hull.
Both he and Mark Quilliam, 55, became the centre of a police investigation after one of their former colleagues, Jonathan Heald, was found with £60,000 of criminal cash and jailed for money laundering in 2013.
Following an undercover police investigation, both Tron and Quilliam were arrested – with officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) surprising Tron while he was sat on the toilet.
Both men were today found guilty of smuggling cocaine following a two-week trial at Hull Crown Court with Tron’s wife, Susan, also being found guilty of money laundering.
The police investigation into the trio began when an undercover National Crime Agency officer, known as Bill, befriended Tron over a three-month period.
Tron, of Carr Hill Road, Gateshead, confided in him that both he and Heald imported drugs from the Netherlands on the ferries.
They used Quilliam, of Gladica Close, Liverpool, as a point of contact with the criminal groups in Liverpool, known as the ‘Scousers’, and suppliers in the Netherlands.
Tron, who worked on the Pride of Hull, told the undercover officer he made thousands of pounds from every trip, and could have made £200,000 had Heald not “f****d it up”.
“I started making some money, serious f***ing money,” he said. “And then it stopped cos of a lad being greedy.”
Tron and his wife deposited almost £140,000 into three separate bank accounts from 2009 to 2015. Many of the deposits were made in Liverpool.
He had tried to recruit the undercover officer for future smuggles and explained how he dropped the drugs off in bags, or concealed them in high-visibility jackets worn by the conspirators.
“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,” he said.
“Then, when we get off in Hull, same thing. So, all you’re doing is passing the coat.”
While under surveillance by Dutch police in April 2015, Tron travelled to Rotterdam to make contact with the drug traffickers. He was seen getting into a car, but the driver became suspicious and drove off at speed to lose the police.
Several weeks later, Tron met Quilliam in a Hull pub. He later told the undercover officer Quilliam had said he would not be used for any more imports because of what happened in Rotterdam.
Weeks later, on September 30, Tron was arrested while on board the Pride of Hull, with his wife and Quilliam arrested at their homes.
Tron told a jury everything he told the undercover officer was “fantasy”. He even claimed he had planned to outsmart him with a box of chocolates and said the £140,000 was gambling winnings.
But a jury found Tron and Quilliam guilty of conspiring to import Class A drugs, and Tron’s wife guilty of money laundering. They will be sentenced on January 18.
Mick Maloney, from the National Crime Agency’s Border Policing Command, said: “Eddie Tron and Mark Quilliam worked as ‘guns for hire’, selling their services to organised crime groups to help them get their commodity into the UK.
“Theirs was an important link in the chain which connects ruthless cocaine manufacturers in South America with street gangs involved in violence and exploitation on the streets of the UK.
“They abused their access and knowledge to bypass border controls and imported large quantities of Class A drugs, but our investigation was able to uncover their corruption.
“The NCA is grateful for the support and co-operation of the ferry operator, port authorities and Border Force in this investigation. We are all determined to target and stop those who seek to circumvent border controls for criminal purposes.”
A P&O Ferries spokesman said: “P&O Ferries operates a zero tolerance policy towards illegal substances. We cooperated fully with the police investigation.”