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Thursday, November 18, 1999 Published at 17:18 GMT

UK: Wales

Former paratroopers recruited drugs courier

The jury at Cardiff Crown Court heard how the drug ring was smashed

A drugs courier told Cardiff Crown Court how a team of former paratroopers recruited him to join a multi-million pound smuggling ring.

Mark Ralph, 34, was an unemployed factory worker when he was persuaded to become a drugs runner, carrying more than 4m in cannabis and amphetamines.

But Cardiff Crown Court heard how the ring was later smashed when Ralph became a police informant.

The former soldiers of the Third Parachute Regiment are accused of using their military expertise to distribute cannabis and amphetamines in an operation spanning Britain.

Approached by gang

Ralph alone is alleged to have moved drugs worth 4m in 15 trips from Dover to south Wales.

Ex-paras Adrian Howells, 32, and John Davidson, 32, and ex-soldier John Bloodworth, 29, are on trial for being part of the gang.

Ralph, of Cwmbran, South Wales, told the court he was approached by the gang after losing his job.

He said: "I was paid 200 a trip to take money to Dover and bring drugs back and I was also paid to store drugs in my shed."

Business used as cover

But Ralph began giving information to the police.

The court was told the gang set up a second-hand car sales business as cover for their cash and for running couriers around the country.

Police found a military-style list of instructions to John Bloodworth from his ex-para brother Steven, 29.

John Bloodworth, of St Dials, Cwmbran, south Wales, Howells, of Thanet Gardens, Folkstone, Kent, and Davidson, of Odo Road, Dover, Kent, all deny conspiracy to supply amphetamine and cannabis.

The case continues.

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