Pirates of the tyre world: Ray lifts the lid on smuggling in car tyres

Ray Pantling, owner of Tyres Direct in Bletchley, gives an insight into the shady world of smuggling drugs, alcohol, guns and more inside tyres. He reveals how he rejected cash to do it himself too…

I’ve removed thousands of items from tyres over the years, including nails, screws, stones, shaving blades, pens and thorns. And a friend of mine in Scotland once removed part of a deer antler from a tyre – it never ceases to amaze me the things found in tyres.

I’ve found tools that have penetrated through the tread of a tyre and, even to this day, I still use a pair of old pliers and a screwdriver that I found rolling around inside a tyre!

But I’m still waiting to find a big haul of money, even though I did come close with a 50 pence coin and a couple of broken coins.

So imagine finding £250,000, which was discovered by Indian tax officials inside a tyre – the culprit was smuggling to cross from Bangalore to Shimoga.

Then there have been times authorities have discovered drugs inside tyres. A drugs courier who smuggled thousands of pounds worth of cannabis resin in a tyre into Jersey eventually ended up jailed. In Colombia the infamous Pablo Escobar regularly stashed heroin in tyres.

It’s amazing what has secretly been stashed inside a tyre to avoid immigration detection – guns and ammunition, alcohol and even animals worth fortunes for their fur or skin.

Years ago I used to own a tyre business in Corby, Northants, and was approached by a local Irish gentlemen who suggestively asked if I was prepared to put a sealed parcel inside a tyre.

He offered to pay me a good rate, a one-off ‘never to be done again’ for my services. He was going to drive to a destination in Ireland, and I’m guessing it was something very sinister.

Obviously I declined the invitation, and still to this day I remain a poor man!

It is a fact that you can fit a tyre on a rim, and then fit another tyre over that inner tyre. Stock car racing cars do it, and it protects the tyre in the event they get rammed by another vehicle.

It is often done with a large number of aircraft tyres too as it can help if the outer tyre blows on landing. The inner tyre stays inflated and acts as a temporary assist until the aircraft comes to a stop.

Another great way to overcome a flat tyre is to put tennis balls into a tyre – this is often used in tyres for dirt track racing.

For more info visit Facebook: @TyresDirectBletch

This feature was published in the November 2019 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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