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(SNO) — Not everything is as it seems.
This well-known phrase can be applied to a British couple in their 70s who, according to the Mail on Sunday, quoting court documents, were couriers for an “organised criminal group” who gave the “impression of being an elderly couple on a road trip”.
Interestingly, the Mail revealed that the couple — former lorry driver Roger Clarke, 72, and his wife Sue, 70 — “went ashore at the island of St Lucia and returned with four new cases”.
The Clarkes were arrested last week when their Caribbean cruise ship, the Marco Polo docked in Lisbon, Portugal. According to the Mail, they are accused of smuggling “20 lbs of high-grade cocaine hidden under false bottoms in their suitcases”.
The couple had reportedly made 16 drug-smuggling trips to Norway in an old car and imported cannabis worth £1 million over 15 months.
The Mail further reported: “After their arrest in Oslo in 2004 they skipped bail and returned to England, where they changed their names and moved into sheltered housing. Their life on the run ended when Mr Clarke became chairman of a residents’ association and his picture appeared in a local newspaper. It led to the couple’s arrest and extradition to Norway, where they were jailed in 2011.
“Court papers reveal they were recruited by a Costa Blanca-based British criminal in 2003 and paid a total of £33,000 to drive across Europe with the cannabis hidden in a secret compartment in a passenger door of their Nissan.
“Eleven of the trips were made from Spain, where they were living at the time. The other five were from the Netherlands. Mr Clarke usually collected the drugs from ‘a supermarket near Alicante’.
“The couple then headed for the German port of Kiel before making the 20-hour crossing to Oslo by ferry, where they handed over the cannabis to Norwegian members of the gang. In all, they smuggled about 573 lb.
“They were caught in Oslo on September 13, 2004. When a sniffer dog detected drugs in the secret compartment of their Nissan, Mrs Clarke burst into tears and her husband confessed, believing he would receive a ‘greatly reduced punishment, possibly no penalty at all’.
“Mrs Clarke was unaware of the true nature of her husband’s first drugs run, on May 17, 2003. Despite her reluctance to get involved after her husband told her the truth, she ‘nevertheless made a choice by joining all the next trips’.”