UK

Former Soldiers Jailed For Total Of 50 Years For Smuggling Guns And Drugs Into Country

25/01/2013 17:29 GMT | Updated 27/03/2013 09:12 GMT

Four former soldiers and a fifth man have been sentenced to a total of 50 years in prison for smuggling guns, ammunition and drugs into the country, a Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said.

The servicemen, who were based in Germany, conspired with civilian contact Ramone Marshallek in London to import the criminal goods in January last year.

Lance Laurent, 26, who was a trooper with the Queen's Royal Hussars, Duran Wright, 28, a Lance Corporal with the Royal Logistic Corps, Trave Dyce, 22, a former trooper in the Queen's Royal Hussars and Lemar Loveless, 26, who was arrested six days after he quit the Queen's Royal Hussars, were all sentenced on Friday along with Marshallek, 25, at Woolwich Crown Court.

Alison Saunders, CPS London chief Crown prosecutor, said: "This was a carefully planned conspiracy to bring weapons, ammunition and drugs into the UK organised by four soldiers based in Germany and their civilian contact in London.

"The conspirators were first caught with the five handguns and 493 grams of cocaine when Dyce drove off the Euro Shuttle train at Dover in January, but the full extent of the criminality was not discovered until phone data was meticulously analysed and a picture of those involved was created.

"These deadly weapons could have gone on to be used in violent crimes. The 74 live bullets brought in as part of the importation were very difficult to obtain in the UK and were likely to have been sold to the criminal underworld.

"The high-purity cocaine that was imported had a street value of over £70,000 and would almost certainly have made big profits for criminal gangs while damaging lives."

Loveless and Dyce were stopped by officers from the Metropolitan Police's Trident Gang Crime Command and armed officers from Kent Police after they got off a Eurotunnel train from Calais on January 25 last year.

Five handguns were found in their vehicle, which was driven by Dyce, while under the driver's seat were three boxed BBM self- loading pistols, each with a silencer, and 20 rounds of ammunition, and under the front passenger seat were two Walther PPK 9mm self-loading pistols, one with 20 rounds of ammunition, police said.

Officers also found 1.1lb (500g) of cocaine in the boot.

The BMW car, bearing British Forces Germany-issued numberplates, was registered with the Army to Wright.

Both men were arrested and interviewed. Loveless refused to answer any questions but Dyce admitted knowingly bringing the firearms into the UK, stating that it had been arranged by Loveless.

He indicated that he did it for payment but denied knowledge of the drugs.

Both men were subsequently charged and remanded in custody.

Their mobile phones were also seized, with calls and text messages on them making references to firearms and also implicating Laurent and Wright, who were arrested in Germany in March.

Marshalleck was arrested and charged the following month after he was identified as the individual who was due to receive the firearms from Loveless on arrival in the UK, and was then expected to be responsible for the onward supply of the weapons to criminal networks in the capital.

Laurent and Wright were both charged in June after returning to the UK. The court heard that while Wright had provided the vehicle used by Dyce, Laurent was instrumental in planning the movement of firearms and drugs to the UK.

The five men were found guilty on Monday following a six-week trial at Woolwich Crown Court.

Shortly before it started, Dyce had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine while Loveless and Laurent pleaded guilty at the beginning of the trial to the firearm offences.

Loveless, of Brydon Walk, Islington, north London, was sentenced to 14 years - seven years for one count of conspiracy to import firearms and seven years for one count of conspiracy to import Class A drugs, namely cocaine.

Dyce, of Sydney Road, Smethwick, West Midlands, was sentenced to seven and a half years - three and a half years for one count of conspiracy to import firearms and four years for one count of conspiracy to import Class A drugs, namely cocaine.

Laurent, of Gloucester Street, Pimlico, central London, was sentenced to 12 years in prison - six and a half years for one count of conspiracy to import firearms and five and a half years for one count of conspiracy to import Class A drugs, namely cocaine.

Wright, of Jerningham Road, New Cross, south east London, was sentenced to 10 years - five years for one count of conspiracy to import firearms and five years for one count of conspiracy to import Class A drugs, namely cocaine.

Marshalleck, of Huron Road, Tooting Bec, south London, was sentenced to six and a half years for one count of conspiracy to import firearms.

Detective Inspector Chris Jones, from Trident Gang Crime Command's north east team, said: "The convictions of Lemar Loveless, Trave Dyce, Romone Marshalleck, Lance Laurent and Duran Wright are the culmination of a great deal of hard work by the Trident north east team, Kent Police, British Military and the CPS.

"It has led to the removal of five lethal firearms and ammunition, weapons which would inevitably have been used to commit acts of serious violence on the streets of London.

"Trident operations, such as this one, demonstrate that it remains difficult for criminals to obtain guns and that police will use all means necessary to track down those responsible to arrest and place them before the courts."

Ms Saunders said: "CPS London will continue to work with its partners in the fight against gun and drug crime in the capital.

"Successful prosecutions such as this stop these items at their first point of entry into the country.

"The sentences handed down today should act as a warning to anyone contemplating such criminal activity."