Local Man Among Largest Skunk Smuggling Ring

Fulham Palace Road resident was on "Board of Directors"

Related Links

Metropolitan Police

Three Arrests over Body in Fulham Garden

Fourth Man Arrested over Alderville Road Murder



Sign up for email newsletters from HammersmithToday.co.uk;
ShepherdsBushW12.com and FulhamSW6.com

A man from Fulham Palace Road is among a 12 strong gang who made up Britain's largest skunk cannabis smuggling ring.

Paul Moran, 37, who was named as one of the gang's three "Board of Directors" has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import controlled drugs and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime.

Southwark Crown Court heard that the gang brought at least £62 million of skunk cannabis into the UK hidden in boxes of flowers from Holland.

At one point they were shipping in consignments worth up to £750,000 a week, and the gang had so much money they left bundles of bank notes rotting in a forgotten underground safe.

To get around this problem, the court heard that they used an east London bureau de change to clean up the dirty money. Members of the gang were seen carrying bags stuffed with up to £200,000 into the World Currency Exchange.

A money counting machine recovered from the bureau de change had processed 520,000 individual notes - the equivalent of £10 million in £20 bills.

Timothy Cray, prosecuting, said the gang's activities amounted to "organised crime involving drug smuggling and money laundering on a massive scale".

He told the court police had the gang under surveillance from August 2007 to November 2008. The defendants used rented lock-ups and garages in south-west London and north Surrey to store the drugs.

Mr Cray said: "The cash-rich nature of the business set the defendants a number of challenges.
Storage of these amounts of money was something that caused the conspirators difficulty."

He said one garage used by the defendants had built-in floor safes where £392,000 in cash was found, including £60,000 which had rotted through water damage.

When the men were arrested police seized 2,125lb (964kg) of skunk and £550,000 in cash. Mr Cray said: " Big as these seizures were, there is clear evidence to suggest that they were just the tip of a large criminal iceberg. "

"Only the defendants themselves will ever know the full extent of the drugs they imported into this country and the money that was generated as a result."

Now the gang, including ringleader Terrence Bowler, have all been convicted and are due to be sentenced on Wednesday March 24.

March 23, 2010