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Keen canine lands truck driver in the dock after heroin and cocaine found in truck chassis

A British man has been charged with drug trafficking after a police dog led the authorities to a large haul of illegal substances hidden inside his truck

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
18 August 2017, 3:11pm
A canine unit had alerted handlers that drugs could be inside the man's Mazda Titan truck
A canine unit had alerted handlers that drugs could be inside the man's Mazda Titan truck
A British man has been charged with drug trafficking after a police dog led the authorities to a large haul of illegal substances hidden inside his truck.

Inspector Kevin Pulis arraigned 53-year-old Mark Dominic Vella from Manchester before magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras this afternoon, after 12kg of heroin and 6kg of cocaine were found hidden inside the chassis of a truck that Vella was driving to Malta from Sicily.

The discovery comes on the heels of a number of large-scale successful drug interceptions by the authorities, most notably the discovery of 300kg of cocaine on a container ship in March.

Drugs Squad police inspector Pulis explained to the court that his officers had been performing routine checks in Valletta waterfront on vehicles arriving from from Sicily yesterday. A canine unit had alerted handlers that drugs could be inside the man's Mazda Titan truck. Although initial searches did not turn up any illicit substances, the dogs continued interest led to the truck being taken to the police garage and completely dismantled. The drugs were found inside the truck's chassis, the inspector said.

Vella, who resides in St Paul's Bay, was charged with conspiracy to import cocaine and heroin, importing the illicit drugs and having them in his possession. He was also accused of using an unauthorised numberplate on his truck.

On the advice of his lawyer, Arthur Azzopardi, the accused chose not to answer any of the questions put to him in court and did not even confirm his name. His silence was registered as a plea of not guilty.

The defence informed the court that it would not be requesting bail at this stage.

The court ordered that a complete inventory of the assets of the accused be compiled and decreed that of all money, movable or immovable property pertaining to the accused be seized and attached into the hands of third parties until the case was decided.

The case will continue on Tuesday.

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...