THREE members of a drug trafficking ring which smuggled drugs into Britain hidden in flat-pack furniture and secret compartments in vans have been jailed for 44 years.

The gang was smashed after an extensive surveillance operation by Met police officers which saw them recover cocaine and cannabis with an estimated street value of £12m and £2.1m in cash.

Ringleader Charles Flatman has been given a 24 year sentence following a trial at Croydon Crown Court.

He was found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A and Class B drugs, concealing criminal property, possessing criminal property and possessing ammunition without a firearms certificate.

During the trial the jury heard cops found £240,700 and €516,000 in cash, jewellery valued at £380,000 and vehicles worth £120,000 at Flatman’s home in Elwill Way, Beckenham.

And at a premises in Sidcup which the 65-year-old used to store ammunition and cocaine officers found 25 rounds of 9mm, cocaine testing kits, rubber gloves with traces of white powder, £41,350 and handwritten notes relating to drug transactions.

At a residential address in Kent owned by Flatman a safe containing £1,078,000 in cash was recovered along with a further £60,000 and some cannabis resin.

Mark Worden, aged 52, of Boughton Avenue, Bromley, was sentenced to 10 years for conspiracy to supply a Class A drug and six years for conspiracy to supply a Class B drug, to be served concurrently.

Worden pleaded guilty to the charges at the court last November.

When the 52-year-old was arrested outside his address his van was searched and 5kg of cocaine, worth around £2.5m, was found in a secret compartment concealed within the rear of the vehicle.

And Lee Ridgley, aged 54, from Maidstone, was sentenced to 10 years after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply a Class B drug.

Fifty-year-old Angela Firth, of Elwill Way, Beckenham, is due to be sentenced today (June 12) for money laundering offences.