Former top cop's son who went to £45k-a-year school jailed for cocaine haul plot

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Jonathan Arnold (Image: BPM Media)
Jonathan Arnold (Image: BPM Media)

A former Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner has spoken of her distress at the imprisonment of her son who was behind the import of £118 million worth of drugs from Colombia.

Sue Arnold, who served in the top role with Staffordshire Police for nearly 10 years, said son Jonathan Arnold was not organising the group - and it's "obvious to anyone looking at the evidence".

But Arnold, 30, was jailed for for 23 and a half years last week as police labelled him a "drugs kingpin". Fourteen officers searched the family home near Tamworth, Staffordshire, in March last year following Arnold's arrest.

Speaking from the home in the rural area, Ms Arnold said: "They didn't say anything for an hour, just went through absolutely everything... It's obvious to anyone looking at the evidence in this case that Jonathan wasn't the one organising things.

Former top cop's son who went to £45k-a-year school jailed for cocaine haul plot eideziqkeiqhhinvSue Arnold was Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner at Staffordshire Constabulary for nine years (STOKE SENTINEL)

"This has really destroyed my faith in the criminal justice system which I was part of for many years. The only good thing that will come out of this is that I'm going to do something to help the children and families of prisoners, who after all, are innocent, even if they're not always treated that way by the system."

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The 63-year-old woman conceded her son was responsible for part of the operation, but stressed he didn't lead it, and claimed his Tremadol addiction, and the guilty plea weren't taken into account on sentencing at Birmingham Crown Court.

The court heard Arnold packed the drugs into lorries used in his furniture removal firm. The drugs were hidden inside pallets of bananas on board a ship from South America. Arnold admitted conspiring to import millions of pounds of cocaine into the UK. The drugs empire which saw a "colossal" amount of drugs smuggled in from Colombia and helped fund a lavish life of luxury including trips to Dubai, a Ferrari and an expensive Rolex.

Former top cop's son who went to £45k-a-year school jailed for cocaine haul plotArnold's operation helped fund a lavish life of luxury, including trips overseas (BPM Media)
Former top cop's son who went to £45k-a-year school jailed for cocaine haul plotThe 30-year-old was jailed at Birmingham Crown Court (BPM Media)

One of his co-defendants, 25-year-old Connor Fletcher, from Wightwick, Wolverhampton, drove a HGV into Dover, Kent, from Calais containing 60 kg of cocaine, and was jailed for 12 years for conspiracy to import cocaine.

Speaking to Mail Online, Mrs Arnold said she and husband John will appeal against their son's sentence. Ms Arnold is a seasoned political campaigner who once stood for Parliament.

She believes her son admitted his charge because he refused to "grass on another" member of the group, a trait, she argues, he developed when he was at his £45,000-a-year boarding school - the same one Roald Dahl and Jeremy Clarkson attended.

Former top cop's son who went to £45k-a-year school jailed for cocaine haul plotArnold was part of the gang which smuggled £135million worth of drugs into the UK (West Midlands Police / SWNS)

Ms Arnold said that after the pandemic hit in 2020, her son starting taking Tramadol with energy drinks "to keep himself going" - but this became an addiction, as Arnold was taking up to 20 pills every day. His mum believes this impaired his judgement, and wasn't taken into account at sentencing.

But Arnold's search for an illegal supply of the prescription-only Tramadol brought him into contact with criminals, and with his removal business in trouble. He was eventually detained in March last year at his address in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands.

Since his sentencing, Detective Chief Superintendent Jenny Skyrme, head of the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “We can’t underestimate the scale and significance of this criminal organisation. This is the biggest drugs case that we have ever dealt with as an organisation.

Former top cop's son who went to £45k-a-year school jailed for cocaine haul plotThe drugs were often hidden in furniture vans (BPM MEDIA)

“The gang was operating at the highest levels of criminality, bringing in industrial quantities of drugs to sell on the streets of the West Midlands and beyond. As the head of the crime group, Jonathan Arnold enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, driving luxury cars and enjoying trips to Dubai.

“He gave the impression that he was a legitimate businessman with a small firm which moved furniture and had a turnover of £50,000 a month. The reality was that he was arranging tens of millions of pounds worth of drugs to be imported into the UK from Europe and South America, which would have gone on to cause untold misery and significant harm to communities.

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She added: “We were able to build a really detailed picture of this operation through mobile phone analysis, CCTV and other intelligence. Working with the National Crime Agency, Border Force, and law enforcement abroad, we’ve been able to put the gang behind bars where they will spend many years.”

Bradley Jolly

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