Liverpool drug baron Curtis Warren jailed for 13 years for £1m cannabis plot - full web exclusive CURTIS Warren was today starting a 13 year jail term for masterminding a £1m cannabis smuggling plot.
The hefty sentence, only a year less than the maximum tariff, was passed down by former High Court judge Sir Richard Tucker at Jersey’s Royal Court yesterday.
In October "Cocky" and five others were convicted by a jury of scheming to import up to £1m of cannabis from mainland Europe to Jersey.
It was alleged by the prosecution Warren used his underworld contacts in Holland to set up the deal for longtime friend and Liverpool-born John Welsh, a big Jersery drug dealer who has lived on Jersey for more than 20 years.
The judge told Warren: "We do not sentence him because of his record or notoriety. Nevertheless he has been shown to be the mastermind behind the planned importation, he provided contacts in Holland and was the source of supply.
"We recognise he has been in prison for a long time but regret to note that very shortly after being released he embarked on another very substantial drug trafficking enterprise.
"We can see no mitigation in this case.
"We have no wish to crush him but there is no alternative than to impose a sentence of 13 years imprisonment."
Toxteth-born Warren was not in court to hear his sentence. Instead events were relayed to him via videolink to HMP Belmarsh.
Warren has been held in the top security jail since being moved off Jersey in a top secret armed operation.
It was sparked by police fears of a plot to spring him from the island’s cliff-top prison.
Warren, dressed in a striped polo shirt and Adidas tracksuit bottoms, could be seen by those in court on sevral large televisions around the room.
They showed the drugs baron sitting on red plastic chairs in a blue room at the prison with guards visible outside.
While the cases for and against his co-conspirators were being put to the court, Warren showed absolutely no interest, preferring to read a book he brought in from his cell.
When the sentence was passed he showed no emotion bar a smirk, leaving the room with the guards behind him.
In his defence those acting for Warren suggested he was too big a criminal to get involved in such a "laughable and hopeless" plot.
Advocate Stephen Baker, Warren’s counsel, laid bare his lengthy criminal past before the jury and pointed the finger at the Serious Organised Crime Agency and other authorities which he accused of being out to "get" his client.
Advocate Baker told how Warren’s was a name "known by every drugs officer in Jersey and the United Kingdom", how he appeared in the 1997 Sunday Times Rich List and how his alleged fortune would make a serious layer in the international drugs market.
He even suggested, in his closing speech, Warren might have been arranging to buy guns, not drugs, during his time on Jersey.
When the jury was out of the courtroom during the three-week trial the judge did little to hide his contempt at the defence offered up by Warren and his team.
After the verdict Advocate Baker said: "Mr Warren intends to appeal his conviction and sentence to the Jersey Court of Appeal.
"Further, he will seek leave of the Privy Council to argue that the conduct of the Jersey executive in unlawfully obtaining evidence against him was so bad that the charges against him should have been dismissed before trial as an abuse of process."
The plot, the jury heard, would have seen 180kgs of cannabis bought in Amsterdam by Welsh and driven back in a hire car through Belgium and France to the Normandy Coast.
Then it was to be picked up by boatman James O’Brien and sprinted back to Jersey on his speedboat, the Skiptide.
But when others failed to come up with the cash and with O’Brien’s boat stuck in a field, the plan fell apart.
Police swooped to arrest the co-conspirators in July 2007 before the deal could be done.
During the trial the court heard secret recordings made by police bugs fitted in Welsh’s hire car and his VW Golf on Jersey.
The admissibility of those tapes, and the methods the police used to get them, knowingly brweaking international laws after being refused permission for the bugs on foreign soil, is still under appeal by Warren’s legal team.
The argument is likely to end up at the Privy Council, the highest court of appeal in the UK, who could yet quash the convictions because of the police’s conduct
There were also recordings of calls Warren made from phone boxes in Jersey to Holland.
During one he was heard to say the plot was "just a little starter", an inference he was looking to set back up in the international drug dealing market.
And when he arrived on Jersey for the first time Warren was stopped by Special Branch officers and asked what his business was.
It is alleged he told them: "I could take Britain back and could take Jersey easily."
Alongside Warren, Welsh, 43, of Somerset Place, St Helier, was jailed for 12 years
O'Brien, 45, of Tunnel Street, also St Helier, was sentenced to 10 years. He previously served a seven-year sentence for a smuggling plot that mirrored this plan.
Local men Paul Hunt, 27, Jason Woodward, 22, and Oliver Lucas, 23, were jailed for a total of 15 years.
Acting Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police David Warcup said today: "The sentencing sends out a message that attempts to import drugs into Jersey will not be tolerated.
"As this case has shown, and today’s sentences, drugs do not need to be recovered for people involved in this trade to be dealt with all the way through the criminal justice system.
"The sentences mark the end of a complex Police operation, which has seen officers from the States of Jersey Police, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Merseyside Police, France, Holland and Belgium, working together.
"This result is also a reflection of the hard work, dedication and commitment of all the officers and agencies involved in this enquiry.
"Tackling serious and organised crime is a priority for the States of Jersey Police.
"In recent years Serious Organised Crime has become increasingly sophisticated and global in its activities.
"If the island is to protect itself from the impact of serious and organised crime, and all that this entails, we must remain focused on defeating those who seek to bring crime to the island.
"We know there have been queries regarding the cost of this operation, and it is estimated that the police operation cost in the region of £600,000, although we have yet to finalise the accounts in relation to this matter.
"Whilst it is appropriate that all costs are fully accounted for, the most important thing is to demonstrate our determination to fight serious crime.
"Anything less than a show of determination will send out the wrong message to criminal gangs and leave the island exposed to be exploited by criminals who seek to reap the financial benefits of the lucrative drugs market which exists within the Island.
"It will also potentially expose the Island to the types of violence which is frequently associated with the drugs trade.
"We remain determined to make sure that this does not happen, and hope that the sentences handed down by the Royal Court today reinforces the view that people who choose to be involved in the drugs trade, whether drugs are recovered or not, will be dealt with robustly." THE ECHO