OLD CODGERS on a road trip. This is not a title of a humorous fictional novel but the real-life cover for 16 trips to Norway to smuggle cannabis worth £1 million over 15 months.
Retired lorry driver Roger Clarke, 72, and his wife Sue, 70, were drug couriers for an organised British-Norwegian criminal gang on the Costa Blanca. First recruited in 2003 in Alicante they drove across Europe in a Nissan hiding the drugs in a secret compartment. They were caught in Oslo in 2004 and subsequently skipped bail.
The high-life on the lamb ended abruptly when they were caught again and extradited to Norway, where they were jailed in 2011.
In all, they smuggled around 573 lb.
Mrs Clarke had been in denial about her husband’s dodgy dealings but quite happy to spend the money and trips with him. She burst into tears after getting caught by a sniffer dog in Oslo on September 13, 2004.
Mr Clarke, who was dubbed by his neighbours in the Torrevieja region as ‘not a nice man’ and whose real name is Roger Button, was eventually jailed for nearly five years and his wife for three years nine months.
After Mr and Mrs Clarke’s release from a Norwegian prison, they tried to play down their offences by telling friends in Alicante that they had been convicted of tobacco smuggling. They also started taking up to six cruises a year.
Last week the Clarkes were arrested when their Caribbean cruise ship the Marco Polo docked in Lisbon, Portugal. They are accused of smuggling 20 lb of high-grade cocaine hidden under false bottoms in their suitcases.