UPDATE: International drug smuggler jailed for importing millions of pounds worth of cocaine and cannabis

Leslie Card
Leslie Card

The final member of an international drug smuggling ring, responsible for importing millions of pounds worth of cocaine and cannabis into the UK from the continent, has been jailed for eight years.

Leslie Robert Card, 61, of Well Close, Chepstow, was sentenced to eight years for improper importation of a class A drug into the UK and eight years for improper importation and supply of a class B drug into the UK, the sentences will run concurrently. The case was heard yesterday (Wednesday) at Birmingham Crown Court.

The jailing of Card, who was charged in April 2014, is the culmination of a protracted and complex investigation by detectives from Warwickshire Police which began in 2007 and was codenamed Operation Damascus.

This focused on the activities of an organised crime group involved in the supply of class A and B drugs and involved more than 220 officers from eight police forces, supported by the Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU).

Eleven of Card’s co-conspirators were previously jailed for nearly 60 years in 2013 for their part of conspiracy which saw class A and B drugs smuggled from Spain, Morocco and Holland into Warwickshire, where they were distributed across the UK.

Those sentenced previously included Terry Conlon, head of the organised crime group who lived in Warwickshire, jailed for eight years in 2013 and his associate Troy Stanton who was based in Spain and was jailed for 16 years in 2013.

Conlon controlled the importation of the drug commodity into the UK while Stanton was responsible for the crime group’s operation in Spain.

In 2008 police made a three of large seizures of cannabis resin in Hull, Wolvey in Warwickshire and Coventry, which had been imported from Spain and Holland.

The seizures were linked by the Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) at Warwickshire Police, but further evidence was needed to prove the importation was organised by Conlon, Stanton and their senior associates, including Leslie Card.

Following extensive liaison with the Spanish authorities, who were conducting their own investigation into the drug shipments, police also discovered evidence of cocaine trafficking and were able to prove Leslie Card and all those convicted in 2013 were connected to the drug seizures in 2008.

Card, who was based in Malaga, Spain at the time of the offences, played an integral part in the movement of drugs from Morocco and Spain into the UK and the rest of Europe. He was arrested and charged in April 2014 with improper importation of a controlled class A drug into the United Kingdom.

He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to conspiracy to import and supply 12 tonnes of cannabis between 2006 and 2009 and was found guilty on 19 May, 2015 of conspiring to import cocaine into the UK.

Detective Inspector Mark Davison said: “Operation Damascus has been one of the longest drug investigations undertaken by Warwickshire Police, lasting nearly eight years. A total of 33 people have been convicted, tonnes of cannabis has been recovered along with 200kg of amphetamines and five illegal firearms. Card was one of the main leaders of the network with extensive contacts in Spain and further afield, he organised the importation of millions of pounds worth of drugs into the UK. The organised crime group has now been fully dismantled from importation level to street-level distributors.

“I would like to thank the team of detectives who worked tirelessly on this case, West Midlands ROCU, West Mercia Police, South East Regional Organised Crime Unit and the Crown Prosecution Service. We will continue to target and dismantle organised crime groups in Warwickshire and West Mercia policing areas, bring them to justice and look to seize the assets gained from their criminal activity. “