Page last updated at 11:40 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 12:40 UK

Drugs baron guilty over 1m plot

Curtis Warren
Curtis Warren was once on Interpol's most wanted list

A drugs baron has been found guilty of conspiring to import £1m of cannabis into Jersey by boat from Amsterdam.

Jurors at Jersey Royal Court convicted Merseyside gangster Curtis Warren of conspiring to import a controlled drug.

During the two-week trial the court had heard Warren, 46, of Liverpool, wanted to flood the Jersey drugs market with cannabis.

Jurors also found five other men, accused of working with Warren, guilty of the same charge.

John Welsh, 43, also from Liverpool, James O'Brien, 45, of Glasgow, Jason Woodward, 22, of Dartford, Kent, Paul Hunt, 27, and Oliver Lucas, 23, both of Jersey, had denied a charge of conspiring to import drugs.

All remain in custody to be sentenced on 4 December.

No emotion

During the trial the court heard how the gang planned to buy 180kg of cannabis in Amsterdam and bring it into an isolated cove in Jersey by boat in 2007.

Warren showed no emotion as the jury returned its unanimous verdict after nine hours of deliberation.

Police surveillance teams and bugging devices were used to record Warren arranging with associates to obtain and transfer the cannabis haul.

The jury heard that in one conversation Warren described the plot as "just a little starter".

Warren was the ring-leader of the gang and the key link between the sale in Holland and buyers in Jersey, jurors heard.

"He was the man at the top who pulled the strings. He had considerable clout and influence and we say he orchestrated this conspiracy," Crown Advocate Howard Sharp had said.

'Police are liars'

During the trial defence lawyers said the case against the six men was "laughable" and that there were "no drugs, no money, no boat".

Advocate Stephen Baker, representing Warren, also criticised Jersey police.

"You can't rely on this crown case, on these police officers. They're liars, they're cheats and they daren't even go into the witness box to tell you the truth," he said.

Curtis Warren has been dubbed Britain's most successful gangster

Just three weeks after Warren was released from a Dutch prison in 2007 Jersey police were tipped off he had arrived at Manchester Airport and paid in cash for a flight to the island.

In response the Jersey's drugs squad launched Operation Floss, a massive surveillance of Warren and his associates.

They followed Warren, bugged at least one public telephone he used and installed CCTV cameras outside his girlfriend's St Helier home.

Officers also photographed him at St Catherine's Breakwater, near where they thought the drugs were going to be brought to the island.

Warren was once Interpol's most wanted drugs trafficker and, even after a decade in a Dutch jail, police still consider him to be one of Britain's most wealthy and influential criminals, the court heard.

'Career criminal'

Bill Hughes, director general of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), which worked with Jersey police during the investigation, said: "Serious organised criminals don't suddenly stop just because they've been caught once.

"That's why when a criminal comes onto SOCA's radar, they stay there for life. Curtis Warren was a career criminal for whom prison was a temporary setback.

"He was already planning his next operation from inside prison, and when he was released SOCA was waiting, watching, and listening."

The Acting Chief Officer of Jersey Police David Warcup said: "We hope that the conviction of the men sends out a clear message to others that we will continue to tackle those responsible for the importation of drugs into the island."

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