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Serious Drugs Offences

Serious Drugs offences usually involve the importation or supply of illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and cannabis. Synthetic drugs have now been added to that list.

The importation or supply of large quantities of banned drugs may attract the investigative skills of Customs (HMRC), or one of a number of specialist UK agencies, including the National Crime Agency (the “British FBI”) and the Police. The investigative techniques used by them, coupled together with their legal powers, can be and often are far reaching and highly intrusive. Sentences can be heavy.

If faced with investigation or arrest for a serious drugs offence, ABV have a number of highly skilled, very experienced specialist lawyers available to advise and assist. Issues can be complex. Topics which may arise include jurisdiction, overseas evidence, investigatory practices and disclosure. Such cases are often linked to money laundering and confiscation proceedings.

ABV are market leaders in dealing with these types of cases. We are able to provide relevant advice, gained through many years of experience, on how to deal with all matters that flow from such an investigation.

Notable Cases

Operation Pearl

This case concerned a client charged with an 8 handed Conspiracy to Supply both cocaine and heroin within the Southampton area. Prosecution alleged that our client played a leading role in the distribution network by sourcing the drugs in London before sending them down to Southampton for onward supply. Defence counsel made a successful half-time submission of no case to answer in respect of the Conspiracy to Supply Heroin count.

Operation Hepatic – Reading Crown Court

Multi handed Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs, large scale Money Laundering and Possession of Firearms. Police used intrusive surveillance probe evidence over many months.

Operation Falcon – Reading Crown Court

Multi handed conspiracy to supply quarter of a million pounds worth of class A drugs found in a residential property. At the time, the largest domestic seizure of Class A drugs in the UK. Featured in Road Wars.

Operation Waterfront – Derby Crown Court

Case concerns a large-scale conspiracy to supply of class A drugs across the Nottinghamshire and Chesterfield areas where arrests were made after extensive police surveillance. The network is said to have generated a revenue of nearly half a million per annum. In the absence of any actual drugs seized the evidence is formed almost exclusively of mobile phone data.

Operation Phoenix – Southampton Crown Court

50 handed large scale conspiracy to supply drugs in Hampshire by London gangs.

Operation Themis – Harrow Crown Court

19 handed conspiracy to supply drugs in Hayes. Surveillance operation involved test purchasing of drugs.

Operation Chester – Reading Crown Court

33 handed Conspiracy to supply drugs in the Berkshire area.

Operation Copthrone – Swindon Crown Court

Multi-Handed Conspiracy to import/ supply 4 tons of Cannabis.

Operation Overfall – Croydon Crown Court

Large Scale Multi-Handed Conspiracy to Supply Class A Drugs involving covert surveillance by SOCA officers, as well as complex telephone and cell site evidence.

R v Y & Others – Birmingham Crown Court

Large Scale Multi-Handed Conspiracy to Import Class A drugs from the Dominican Republic. The case was that the drugs were imported to London airports, cleared through a landing agent and then transported them to Birmingham. A large operation involving police forces from the South and the Midlands.

R v J & Others – Kingston Crown Court

Multi – Handed Supply of Class A Drugs which involved significant covert surveillance in the U.K over a period of time.

Operation Haughty – Reading Crown Court

Multi Handed Conspiracy to Supply Class C drugs namely, 103 kilos of skunk cannabis and complex money Laundering via ‘Cuckoo Smurfing’ by controllers. There was a vast amount of Cell Site Phone evidence relied upon by the police together with Covert Surveillance.

Operation Sauce – Reading Crown Court

Investigation conducted by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) into the supply of Class A drugs in the Thames Valley area.

Operation Wipe – Reading Crown Court

A multi handed conspiracy alleged to be a nationwide commercial scale drugs operation. The drugs (Heroin) were valued at approximately £4 million. The case was investigated over a period of time using covert surveillance both audio and visual.

Operation Baccarat – Guildford Crown Court

Conspiracy to Supply approximately 86kgs of Cannabis through a sophisticated set operation.

Operation Yarmouth

A highly sophisticated operation which was investigated by the National Crime Agency where a “massive” cannabis production factory was raided. The Defendants were part of an Albanian crime syndicate who utilised a warehouse to run their operation. The architecture of the warehouse was complex with a specialist design to create tens of purpose built sections to conceal the plants and to avoid detection. Over £5 million worth of drugs were seized, 70 mobile phones and surveillance was conducted over a period of a year.

Operation Pink Duck / Operation Tailorcraft / Operation Yellowstone / Operation Barnes / Operation Martinet / Operation Grayshot / Operation Agosta – Birmingham Crown Court 2

Large scale and multi handed supply and production of Class A & B Drugs in Liverpool, Birmingham and Sussex. The matter was investigated by SOCA who used covert surveillance as part of their lengthy investigation into this alleged organised crime group.

R v A – Kingston Crown Court

This case involved 5 Defendants accused of possession of firearms and the supply of drugs. This case involved the instruction of a DNA expert to deal with the issue of transfer of DNA in respect of our client and whether or not they had any connection to the firearms or drugs. Our Client was acquitted of possession with intent to supply class A drugs but convicted of the firearms offences.

Operation Pulex

An investigation conducted by the NCA into an organised crime group based in South East England with links to Brazil, Jamaica, Portugal and South Africa. The methodology used by the Defendants, some of whom were British Airways baggage handlers, included circumventing border controls to smuggle over £32 million of Class A and B drugs. This was an extensive surveillance operation where around 200 media devices were seized.

R v H- Reading and Birmingham Crown Courts

Representing clients involved in large scale drugs supply across southern England and the Midlands

Operation Thallium- Reading Crown Court

This case concerned the surveillance of various defendants following intelligence received in relation to drug supply from a particular address. The address was observed over a number of months following which arrests were made. The address being used belonged to this defendant and so it was a case of negotiating a basis of plea in terms favourable to the client to ensure the case was resolved with the best possible outcome for the defendant.  Thereafter, a favourable Confiscation Order was also negotiated. 

R v M & Others- Harrow Crown Court

This case centres on a group of men who were involved in the commercial supply of cocaine between February and May 2015. They were under observation by surveillance officers for a number of months. The Prosecution have established contact between all the defendants and a number of relevant items were seized when the defendants were arrested and their homes searched. All the defendants in this case entered guilty pleas and a basis of plea was drafted for our defendant in terms favourable to him which was accepted by the Prosecution.

Operation Halimous – Central Criminal Court

The NCA commenced an investigation and substantial surveillance operation concerning the smuggling of Class A and B drugs which were being sent to the UK via Royal Mail (Parcel Force). The Prosecution suspect that insiders within the Royal Mail were part of the organised crime group.

R v E Basildon Crown Court

Seven defendants prosecuted in a substantial drugs prosecution and accused of drug trafficking offences relating to 1.46 tonnes of cannabis valued at £4 million.  

R v G Exeter Crown Court

10 defendants accused of a £4million drugs conspiracy. Laura represented one of the defendants charged later than the 9 other defendants and prepared a 3 month trial within 4 weeks. The defendant required continual psychological and psychiatric assessment and constant monitoring. The defendant was acquitted.

R v F Manchester Crown Court

The defendant was part of a huge operation resulting in the prosecution of 20 defendants in a drug smuggling conspiracy. In the case against the client, the Crown relied on ANPR evidence, cell site and observation evidence. The defence instructed experts to examine the Crown’s reports and challenges were raised at trial. In addition, a series of impeccable character witnesses gave evidence about the client and the jury were persuaded to acquit him. The co- defendants received sentences of between 9 and 15 years.

Operation Hotflex – Southwark Crown Court

This case concerned a multi-handed investigation into the importation and manufacture of a substantial quantity of Class C controlled drugs, namely steroids, and the subsequent laundering of the criminal proceeds of crime. The value of the drugs was over a million pounds and the offence was committed over a significant period of time. The most unusual feature of this case was that the drugs were being sold on the internet through e-bay using shell companies for marketing and payment.

Operation Usurp – Chelmsford Crown Court

Officers from the Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Essex and London areas conducted an extensive investigation over a significant period of time into the supply of high purity Class A drugs. Targets included those who were senior members of the Organised Crime Group with differing roles in the drugs supply chain. Over 40 mobile phones were examined in detail to demonstrate the daily movements of the Defendants together with use of ANPR and surveillance evidence.

Operation Mohican – Southampton Crown Court

The case is linked to Operation Fortress and was a multi-handed Conspiracy to Supply Class A and B drugs. Following an extensive investigation spanning over a year and a half, the Defendants were said to have been supplying drugs from the West London area to Southampton. A number of dealer lines were associated to the Defendants which led to the extensive examination of over 50 mobile phones.

Operation Walnut – Wolverhampton Crown Court

Multi Handed Conspiracy to Supply vast amounts of Class A drugs. The case involved complex Cell Site phone evidence and International Probe intrusive surveillance requiring a Commission Rogatoire as evidence called from foreign law enforcement officers.

Operation Ashwick – Kingston Crown Court

Large Multi Handed Conspiracy to Produce and Supply Class A Drugs involving Intrusive Probe Evidence and Covert Surveillance.

Operation Manakin – Sheffield Crown Court

This case involved a large multi –handed Cultivation of Cannabis and other drug related offences in and around the Sheffield area. A vast amount of surveillance was conducted over a lengthy period of time, which culminated in the arrests of many Chinese Nationals.

R v R & Others – Reading Crown Court

Large scale multi-handed Possession with Intent to Supply Class A and B and Money Laundering was investigated by the SOCA (Serious and Organised Crime Agency) following a surveillance operation which resulted in the seizure of a vast quantity of Class A and B Drugs together with a large quantity of money and firearms.

Operation Propal – Stafford Crown Court

Large scale, multi-handed Conspiracy to Supply Class A Drugs following the arrests of some of the defendants from Barbados Airport in possession of a large quantity of Cocaine. A further large quantity of Cocaine is said to have been imported in separate multiple supplies from Venezula and then distributed within the U.K.

Operation Tunnel – Leicester Crown Court

Multi-handed Conspiracy to Import Class A Drugs, which was investigated by SOCA (Serious and Organised Agency). Concerned approximately 93 Kg of Heroin imported from Karachi, Pakistan concealed skilfully in various vegetables.

Operation Cook – Reading Crown Court

A large multi- handed drugs case, involving over two tons of Class B drugs being imported into the U.K via sea freight from Ghana. The case also involved multiple kilos of Class A drugs over an 18 months period from Jamaica and St Lucia via air freight.

Operation Occasion – Winchester Crown Court

Multi handed Conspiracy alleging the importation and distribution of a vast quantity of Cocaine by a large Organised Crime Enterprise associated to Nigeria. The Jury were asked following legal arguments to return verdicts of Not Guilty against the defendant we represented.

Operation Culgao – Maidstone Crown Court

This involved the importation of approximately 20 kg of Cocaine from Africa, which was smuggled on commercial passenger British Airways flights in food catering pods. The case was investigated by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and resulted in the charging of many defendants following surveillance over a lengthy period of time.

Operation Stork – Reading Crown Court

This case concerned the surveillance by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) of individuals who were thought to be an organised crime group operating a supply of Class A drugs in the Thames valley Area.

Operation Sconce – Reading Crown Court

A large conspiracy to supply a vast quantity of Class A and B drugs through an organised crime group over a prolonged period of time. The case involved an extensive surveillance operation by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

Operation Bizarre – Leeds Crown Court

Multi handed conspiracy to supply a vast amount of Class A drugs Nationwide. This was investigated by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and involved covert surveillance and audio probe evidence over a period of over 10 months.

R v K & Others – Birmingham Crown Court

Multi-handed nationwide conspiracy to supply a vast amount of class A drugs. The defendant we represented was acquitted of 5 out of 6 of the charges against him

Operation Singapore – Croydon Crown Court

CONSPIRACY TO IMPORT COUNTERFEIT MEDICNE – MHRA PROSECUTION Described as the most serious breach of the medicines control regime in the EU with far reaching effects. Successfully represented the CEO of International Pharmaceutical Company based in England who was investigated over 2 years by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) who was accused of conspiring to illegally import and distribute millions of pounds worth of counterfeit medicine used to treat life threatening illnesses. The case involved links with high profile FBI prosecution in the USA.

R v B & B – Guildford Crown Court – MHRA PROSECUTION

This was a large prosecution brought by the MHRA. The case involved a Conspiracy to Supply Prescription Only Medicines, Conspiracy to Supply Medicines not on the General Sales List, & Conspiracy to Supply Class C Drugs in respect of the British postal hub of a very significant “drop-shipping” of medicinal products and controlled drugs worth in excess of £1.5 million.

Operation Bypass – Isleworth Crown Court

Large OCG (Organised Crime Group) who were allegedly involved in a vast amount of illegally smuggled cigarettes from Dubai and China via Kenya and Uganda in consignments of fresh fruit and vegetables with a loss to the Revenue of more than £5 million. The defendants operated as a freight agent with an ERTS facility. The OCG are also said to be involved in over £20 million worth of Class A and tonnes of class B Drugs. Defendant acquitted of some charges after a successful abuse of process application, further acquitted of remaining charges after trial.

Key Individuals

Robert Borwick

Robert Borwick

Director

Sunita Mehta

Sunita Mehta

Solicitor

Hanisha Godhania

Hanisha Godhania

Solicitor

Rishi Verma London Solicitor Fraud Crime

Rishi Verma

Solicitor

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