Hero fireman jailed over drugs ring
A hero fireman honoured for rescuing victims of one of the July 7 bombs has been jailed for 14 years for his role in a £100 million cocaine ring, it can now be reported.
Simon Ford, 41, won a London Fire Brigade Gold Award for risking his life to get victims off the bus blown up in Tavistock Square during the suicide attacks on the capital in 2005.
But the former drug addict is now serving a jail term after admitting he was a key player in a sprawling network of underworld crime gangs responsible for flooding south-east England with drugs.
His case can be reported for the first time after the final member of the 35-strong drugs and money laundering gang was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court and legal restrictions were lifted.
A total of 33 criminals linked to the operation have been sentenced to a total of more than 200 years in prison for offences including conspiracy to supply cocaine, money laundering and firearms offences.
The court heard how ringleaders netted more than £100 million in cash via a run-down but heavily fortified taxi garage under the Westway in Paddington, central London.
Ford was one of 22 people arrested when officers from Scotland Yard's Special Intelligence Section (SIS), supported by more than 500 colleagues, raided homes across London and the Home Counties in February 2008.
The Soho-based firefighter was caught red-handed at his flat in Guildford Street, Chertsey, as he divided more than 100 kilos of cocaine, worth around £5.5 million, for delivery to a ring of couriers waiting at service stations around the M25.
Police said the waterproof drug packages had been picked up at a beach in Hythe, Kent, the previous night after being delivered by men on an inflatable boat and were still wet with sea water.
Detective Superintendent Steve Richardson, head of the SIS, said the operation dealt a "huge blow" to the British class A drugs industry.