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Friday, 5 July, 2002, 18:25 GMT 19:25 UK
Jamaican drug 'mules' jailed
Courts generic image
Judge said guilty were all "in a sense victims"
Three Jamaican drug "mules" caught trying to smuggle 100,000 worth of cocaine into Britain have been jailed.

George Wright, 40, Winston Francis, 50 and Rohan Chambers, 24, swallowed 200 packages of pure cocaine powder.


None of you were the organisers, you were all of you in a sense victims

Judge Thomas Crowther

Police made the discovery as the three men arrived at Heathrow from Jamaica in April, Bristol Crown Court was told.

Wright and Francis were sentenced to five years each in prison and Chambers to four years and nine months in prison.

Recorder of Bristol Judge Thomas Crowther QC told them: "I've no doubt those who organise these things will resort to any device which may be effective to recruit mules.

"None of you were the organisers, you were all of you in a sense victims."

A fourth Jamaican man, Laxey White, 52, who was caught coming off the same plane with 50 packages of cocaine in his body, will be sentenced in August.

Poverty and coercion

He claimed to have been kidnapped by armed men, forced to consume the drugs and catch the plane.

The judge allowed more time for his mitigation to be investigated.

The court heard well organised Jamaican drug rings preyed on vulnerable men desperate for money.

The men were told by the drug groups that the more they swallowed, the more they would earn.

Prosecuting, Brian Pixton said the four men all quickly admitted to carrying the drugs when they were stopped on 29 April.

Hand-to-mouth

Defending Wright, Fiona Elder said he had been living hand-to-mouth supporting his partner and four children while unemployed.

"No one swallows that number of packages with the obvious risk there is to their own life without feeling desperate," she said.

Mitigating for Francis, Jason Taylor said he was ordered to smuggle the drugs into Britain to clear his own drug debts.

"The people that are really making the money from this and are the brains behind the operation are astute enough not to set foot on a plane themselves," he added.

Chambers, who sat crying in the dock, was described by counsel as a vulnerable and uneducated young man.

Joint police swoop

Judge Crowther said regardless of the circumstances British courts had to send a message that drug smuggling would not be tolerated.

"I am told that there are somewhere in the region of a dozen or more flights from Jamaica each week," he said.

"If every flight had the same number of persons on as yourselves it is quite plain that these relatively small quantities add up to a very considerable amount indeed."

The arrest of the four men, who had all previously pleaded guilty to importing a class A drug, was part of an operation involving Avon and Somerset police, other police forces and customs officials.

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