DRUG dealers were caught red-handed with £5million worth of cocaine in an A127 lay-by.

The pair, who have been jailed for ten years each, were spotted passing two suitcases from one vehicle to another in the Basildon lay-by by Met Police officers carrying out surveillance.

Officers initially grew suspicious when they witnessed a lorry and Mini Countryman driving in convoy on the London-bound carriageway.

With both cars stopped in a lay-by, officers swooped and carried out a search of both vehicles.

Two suitcases were found containing £5million worth of cocaine.

Detective Inspector Jim Casey, from the Met’s specialist crime command, said: “This is a significant seizure of high purity cocaine which would have no doubt caused hardship and misery across all the communities of London and beyond.

“As a result of my team’s professionalism and commitment to keeping all communities safe this has not been allowed to happen.

“I hope that these sentences serve as a deterrent to those involved or thinking about getting involved in the supply of controlled drugs on the streets of London.”

It was later heard in court that Laimutis Vikerta, from Lithuania, had passed the large suitcases, containing 49 kilograms of cocaine to Vicrahdeep Sahota, the driver of the Mini Countryman.

Both defendants, Vikerta, 41, and Sahota, 29, from Reading, were sentenced to 10 years each in prison.

The pair were sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on November 10, following the incident on the A127 in May this year.

Both men had pleaded guilty earlier this month to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Joint operations between Essex Police, Met Police and officers in Kent have seen more than £40,000 seized and more than 30 arrests. Essex Police insist the area is becoming a “hostile place” for drug dealers.