Page last updated at 00:00 GMT, Friday, 25 April 2008 01:00 UK

Drug baron ordered to forfeit 2m

Brian Wright
Mr Wright was also involved in fixing horse races

A convicted drug dealer has been ordered to pay just over 2.3m or face another 10 years in jail.

The confiscation order, issued against Brian "the Milkman" Wright by Woolwich Crown Court, is estimated to be the value of his remaining assets.

Wright, an Irishman who lived mainly in London, made at least 45m from his global cocaine smuggling ring.

He was on the run for several years until police tracked him down in Spain. He was jailed for 30 years last April.

It is a fair inference that he had many pools of money from which he could draw
Judge Peter Moss

Judge Peter Moss told Mr Wright that he would have to serve a consecutive 10 years default sentence if the money was not paid within 12 months.

It is thought that Mr Wright masterminded the shipment of over three tonnes of cocaine into the UK between 1996 and 1999.

He was nicknamed "the Milkman" because he boasted that he "always delivered".

'Horse racing

The head of the custom's restraint & confiscation unit, Robert Alder, said: "The size of this confiscation order reflects Brian Brendon Wright's role at the very top of a global organised crime network.

"Confiscation orders like this ensure that career criminals such as Wright are denied the opportunity to profit from their crimes."

The boat Sea Mist; pic courtesy of HM Customs
Operation Extend led to 20 convictions worldwide

Wright, who never paid a penny in tax, had a UK bank account or credit card or registered anything in his own name, told the jury he had no money left.

Giving his ruling, Judge Moss said: "The defendant, despite living in the UK for most of his adult life, is never known to have paid any tax to the Inland Revenue.

"He lived in a Chelsea Harbour development and was well known to the staff of the nearby Conrad Hotel, which he used as his office."

Wright earned 400,000 a year from gambling on horse racing and was so successful that he was barred from holding accounts with bookmakers, jurors heard.

Judge Moss went on to say: "It follows that he spent every last penny of these sums without putting anything away as either savings or investments.

"There was a systematic shuffling around of cash by himself and others. It is a fair inference that he had many pools of money from which he could draw, held by loyal friends and family."

The 2.3m confiscation order is equal to the total of his known assets; including a 1m villa he owns in Spain called El Lechero - Spanish for "The Milkman" and a profit of over 300,000 which he made when he sold a family home in Surrey.

Escape

Police first broke "Wright's smuggling operation in 1996 when a ship called Sea Mist ran into bad weather and was forced to shelter in Cork harbour.

Customs officers discovered 599kg of cocaine, with an estimated street value of 80m, in the hold .

Operation Extend, one of Britain's largest ever drug investigations, followed. It led to 20 convictions worldwide with jail sentences totalling more than 250 years.

Although many of his gang members were caught, Wright, the ringleader, escaped to northern Cyprus in 1999. He was eventually found hiding in Spain in 2005 and extradited to the UK.

In April 2007, he was convicted of conspiracy to evade prohibition on the importation of a controlled drug and of conspiracy to supply drugs.

Wright had a penchant for high living. He held a box at Royal Ascot for several years, and was a member of the exclusive clubs Annabels and Tramps in London.




SEE ALSO
Racing's 'Mr Big'
03 Apr 07 |  Horse Racing
How vast drug gang was smashed
14 Jun 02 |  England


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