The latest bizarre chapter in the controversial career of businessman and pilot Christopher Barrett-Jolley is astounding even by his standards.
Known as "one of the best pilots in the business", the flamboyant 55-year-old's final venture was to fly a £22 million cargo of cocaine from Jamaica into Southend airport.
It was then to be dumped on the runway for a drug gang waiting in a nearby graveyard to run out and collect.
Barrett-Jolley's cover story was that he was working for "Air America", a supposed wing of the CIA.
He even had an "Air America" identification pass authorised by a "Commander Milroy" and supposedly issued in Tan-Son-Nhut, a US airbase during the Vietnam war.
His fatal mistake was to include on the job a Serb hardman called Nikolai Luzaic, a veteran of the Balkan wars, to provide security.
Luzaic turned informer and when the plane arrived at Southend Customs officers were waiting.
The audacious smuggling operation was hatched in a series of e-mails in July 2001 between Barrett-Jolley and his brother-in-law, another pilot, Peter Carine, aged 50.
On August 31 they flew to Southend in a light aircraft.
Investigators later found a map of Southend Airport at Barrett-Jolley's home with the graveyard marked and the end of the runway circled.
The plane itself, a Boeing 707 freighter, had been bought by a Nigerian company Koda Air in January 2001 and they intended to charter it out to carry cargo using a Belgium-based management company called Red Rock Aviation.
Barrett-Jolley and Carine initially flew the plane for Koda Air from Lagos to Belgrade where it was to undergo repairs.
Barrett-Jolley then set about chartering the plane himself and over several months £55,000 was paid into his bank account in Tiverton, Devon from a bank in Manchester.
When he told Red Rock Aviation he wanted to charter the plane Barrett-Jolley said: "We are not permitted to disclose our clients' real names but for the purposes of this matter let's call them Air America".
He said the destination for the flight was secret and that even he would not know it until the last minute - the cargo was "security documents".
Red Rock and Koda Air agreed to the charter on the condition that Koda Air's man David Ogundipe travelled on the flight.
With the arrangements in place the drugs run was then delayed by the events of September 11, which led to the closing of US air space to charter flights.
The plane finally took off from Belgrade on the afternoon of October 11, 2001.
The 707 refuelled at Las Palmas in the Canary Islands and flew on to Montego Bay, Jamaica, landing in the early hours.
Later the same day Customs and Excise in London received a phone call from a firm of solicitors in Birmingham acting on behalf of Luzaic.
Then Luzaic himself called from the Holiday Inn in Montego Bay saying that an operation to smuggle 500kg of cocaine was under way.
At 3am on October 16 the 707 left Montego Bay - according to Barrett-Jolley its cargo of "secret documents" had been cancelled by a local CIA agent.
But before take-off five suitcases and a large green holdall containing a total of 271kg of cocaine had been placed in the forward hold - the cost of buying the drugs in Jamaica would have been over £1 million.
When the plane reached Las Palmas to refuel, Barrett-Jolley told air authorities he had technical problems and needed to divert to Southend.
Shortly afterwards Luzaic called Customs in London from on board the plane and told them the drop was to be at Southend and the reception party would be waiting in a graveyard.
The question of who was waiting in the graveyard remained a mystery - it could have been a Jamaican Yardie gang although Barrett-Jolley and his team would seem unlikely partners.
Whoever was there got away but Customs said their main priority was to secure the drugs on the runway.
Barrett-Jolley, a career pilot for hire, first earned notoriety by exporting live calves from Coventry Airport in the mid-1990s.
During the operation a Boeing 737 crew of five died in a crash, narrowly missing a housing estate, and animal protester Jill Phipps was killed under the wheels of a livestock lorry near the airport.
Barrett-Jolley's home was besieged and attacked by protesters and he was arrested after allegedly firing an air rifle at them.
Later, as his debts mounted, he was convicted of fraud after claiming his Range Rover had been stolen.
He also faced accusations by a newspaper of running guns from Slovakia to Sudan in breach of EU rules. He denied it saying the arms were legally destined for Chad not Sudan.
The arms allegations were made after a leased Boeing 707 crashed at Bratislava Airport in Slovakia in 1999.
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