Jail for UK Man Who Smuggled Cocaine to Pay Off Poker Debt

03 Nov

Smuggling cocaine to pay off a $60k poker debt resulted in a seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence for an Englishman last week after Jersey customs officers found his badly-hidden stash…

56-year-old Londoner, Andrew John Bennett, was arrested on April 30th this year as he attempted to enter Jersey with more than 125g of cocaine.

When stopped by customs officers, Bennett claimed he was visiting the island to play at two local poker clubs, though admitted he didn’t know where one of them was.

A search of his belongings revealed a bank card in another person’s name, and then a blue plastic carrier bag was found in a zipped compartment.

Inside the bag was a clingfilm package containing white powder, which was tested and determined to be 60% pure cocaine, with a wholesale value of between £9,000 and £11,000 and a street value of £18,000-£25,000 ($25,000-$35,000).

Bennett claimed that he was delivering the drugs to pay off a poker debt, relating a tale that involved losing £60,000 in a drunken poker session to men he later discovered were “very dangerous”.

Bennett’s defense advocate, Julia-Ann Dix, described Bennett as “not a sophisticated drug mule” and that the “desperate measures” he resorted to were as a result of threats.

Bennett was allegedly told to “do something to pay his debt,” or “something would happen to his family.”

Describing Bennett’s behaviour as a “foolish decision to undertake crime to pay back debts,” Dix offered Bennett’s diary as proof, the black book entry one week prior to his arrest reading: “Totally f***ed. Worst ever.”

Connected to this, the defence claimed, was Bennett’s refusal to give passwords for an iPad and iPhone seized during his arrest.

That led to the court revealing that it was only the second case the island, the largest of the Channel islands, had seen of someone “failing to disclose keys”. It also added an additional 15 months tacked on to Bennett’s sentence.

The prosecution case was that Bennett had “imported a significant quantity of cocaine at relatively high purity that was to be sold on the streets of Jersey.”

They also described him as “a trusted courier performing a valuable function in the supply of drugs in the Jersey community,” and rejected claims that Bennett was being forced to smuggle the cocaine.

Jersey’s Royal Court’s Superior Number, led by Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith, described Bennett’s decision as “foolish” and sentenced him to six years and three months imprisonment for the drug smuggling charge. The extra 15 months for failing to disclose his passwords is to be served consecutively.

We revealed back in July how highstakes Italian-Kuwaiti poker player, Salman Behbehani, was arrested on suspicion of smuggling a mixed bag of drugs into the party island of Ibiza.

Behbehani was among 30 passengers on a private jet that landed in Ibiza on Friday July 16th, with his suitcase showing signs of “organic substances and small foreign containers” when scanned.

When opened, Spanish Guardia Civil officers discovered quite a haul:

  • 315g cocaine
  • 705g hashish
  • 80g crystal methamphetamine
  • LSD
  • Ecstasy
  • Magic Mushrooms
  • Speed
  • Cannabis

Behbehani, rumoured to be the infamous private game drug supplier known as “Pill Ivey”, remains in custody.

Prison time can lead to some surprising results and stories, such as that of Michael Haag, who served a 3-year sentence on drugs charges and discovered poker while inside.

As we reported a few years back, Michael and fellow inmates used Monopoly money in place of chips and their winnings and losses were paid in commissary goods such as ramen noodles and cigarettes.

Haag has since gone on to earn more than $430,000 from the game on the outside, including a small cash just last week at the ongoing WSOP in Las Vegas.

Did you like this article?