A German truck driver has been jailed for 19 years after he attempted to bring almost half a tonne of cocaine into the UK hidden in his lorry load of tyres.

Kawus Rafiei, 57, was sentenced after being found guilty at Canterbury Crown Court of attempting to import Class A drugs following a five-day trial.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) investigated Rafiei following the seizure of the drugs at Dover’s Eastern Docks on 18 March 2020.

Officers from Border Force scanned his HGV and detected an anomaly in the load.

Within the trailer unit, they found two shrink wrapped stacks of tyres. When the tyres were cut into, packages of cocaine weighing 470 kilos were found.

Rafiei, who had paperwork for two legitimate deliveries on board, produced additional documentation for the tyres which showed they were loaded in the Netherlands and heading to a car fit company in the UK.

But NCA officers were able to show the paperwork had been doctored for the cover load.

Forensic experts believe the drugs would have been worth an estimated £37.6m once cut and sold on the streets.

Martin Grace, NCA Dover branch commander, said: “This seizure prevented a huge amount of cocaine from coming into the UK, and has landed a corrupt lorry driver in jail.

“Working with partners like Border Force we are committed to breaking the supply chain, and disrupting the organised crime groups involved.”