A man from Oldbury accused of being involved in a massive drug supply conspiracy has told a court he thought he was collecting cigarettes.
Marek Sieprawski met up with Danny Malone, another of the accused, after driving from the West Midlands to Kent.
However, police swooped shortly after they met and he was arrested with Malone.
Sieprawski, of Gladstone Drive, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis. Malone, of Collier Street, Tonbridge, has admitted the offence.
Maidstone Crown Court has heard 200 kilos of cannabis with a wholesale value of £200,000 was seized in Paddock Wood on March 4.
Sieprawski, 34, and Malone, 43, had arrived in separate vans and stopped in a lay-by in Queen Street near the railway station.
Sieprawski claimed he had been approached by a man at a pub in Oldbury and asked if he wanted cheap cigarettes. He said he was told by his contact ‘Adam’ he would be met when he arrived in Kent.
Giving evidence through an interpreter, Sieprawski agreed he had made collections for Adam on other occasions.
He said: “Adam told me that if the man who turns up waves at me I am supposed to follow.”
Prosecutor Steven Perian asked: “Is the reason you followed because you knew exactly what you would be given to collect – not cigarettes but cannabis?”
Sieprawski replied: “I followed him aware that what I was about to collect was cigarettes.”
Asked if alarm bells rang, he said: “Quite the opposite. I felt relaxed at this moment.”
Sieprawski said he did not know how many boxes he was collecting. He agreed they sounded heavy when they were thrown into his van. The other man was wearing gloves.
Sieprawski is on trial with lorry driver Hugh Webb, 52, of Standfield Gardens, Dagenham, Essex, who also denies conspiracy to supply cannabis.
Webb was arrested in a second swoop – when a lorry was stopped in a country lane on March 8 and a massive haul of cannabis was seized.
The 1,701 kilos of cannabis which had just been collected from an industrial unit at a farm in Great Chart, Ashford, was said to be worth up to £8.5 million on the street.
Arrested with Webb were Danny Malone’s brother Michael, 46, of Rutland Road, Hove, East Sussex, and Martin Merritt, 39, of Grosvenor Road, Dagenham.
The Malones and Merritt have all admitted the offence. The prosecutor said Danny Malone was at the heart of the supply chain and featured in both seizures. The trial continues.