Wren hid £2m cocaine haul on Navy ship
A Royal Navy wren who came to Britain as an asylum seeker was jailed for seven-and-a-half years yesterday for smuggling £2m worth of cocaine into the UK on board a warship.
Teresa Matos (37) — an Angolan-born steward from Contsworth Court, Gateshead — picked up 4.94kg of 100% pure cocaine while HMS Manchester had docked at the port of Cartagena in Colombia, South America, in July of last year.
The drugs were discovered hidden in the lining of Matos's clothes inside her locker when the Type 42 destroyer arrived in Plymouth last August en route to its home port of Portsmouth.
Matos, who was granted asylum in 2004, was sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court alongside her boyfriend Raul Beia (39) — who was also granted asylum to live in the UK — and two other men.
Matos and Abdul Banda (34), of Ashbourne Road, Ealing, west London, both pleaded guilty to illegally importing drugs in the court.
Beia and Dean Langley (20) were found guilty of the same charge by a jury after denying their involvement.
Beia was jailed for 13 years, Banda for 10-and-a-half years and Langley for 11 years.
Sentencing them, Judge Ian Pearson said: “This was a serious importation of a considerable quantity of cocaine.
“The rewards that were to be made, had you been successful, would have been considerable and the penalties must be considerable as well.
“It goes without saying this offence is so serious that only a custodial sentence of some length may be justified.”
Matos was arrested in Plymouth while Banda was arrested with Beia, of Clapham, London, and Langley, of Clem Attlee Estate, Fulham, London, at Portsmouth's Ibis Hotel.
The three men were caught on CCTV purchasing digital scales, plastic boxes and clingfilm to be used to distribute the drugs. Judge Pearson ordered for the drugs and paraphernalia to be confiscated and destroyed.
The court was told that Beia and Banda were the “ringleaders” of the operation while Matos was a courier and Langley was recruited to receive and distribute the drugs.
Beia has a previous conviction for false accounting, Banda for conspiracy to rob and Langley for charges of robbery, supplying a class A drug and possessing a gun-shaped lighter.