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Prosecuting crimes involving drugs

The legal restrictions placed on the use of controlled drugs are aimed at preventing drug abuse. The principal offences relating to the misuse of controlled drugs are contained in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

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Prosecuting International and Organised Crime

Drug trafficking, people trafficking, use of firearms, money laundering, internet crime, fraud, serious robbery and organised vehicle crime at home and internationally, are all dealt with by the International Justice and Organised Crime Division. A specialist team of experienced prosecutors, the International Justice and Organised Crime Division work closely with the police and international law enforcement agencies to bring criminals to justice.

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Drugs boss conviction completes gang downfall


Karl Pettitt, the main ringleader of a cocaine importation gang, was sentenced to 22 years' imprisonment today at Blackfriars Crown Court. He had pleaded guilty at a hearing in London last month.

Pettitt was arrested following an investigation into a Colombian gang operating in Spain, who were importing large quantities of cocaine into Europe. The Colombians sold the product onto Pettitt who, through his network of contacts, arranged for the importation of the drug into the United Kingdom.

CPS reviewing lawyer, Ian Welch, of the Organised Crime Division said today:

"Karl Pettitt had been leading a lavish lifestyle off the back of his illegal profits and at the time of his arrest was renting a luxury villa belonging to a Real Madrid footballer. This was a lifestyle he was loathe to give up and he unsuccessfully fought our extradition attempts.

"His sentencing today marks the end of a serious organised criminal enterprise and is a testament to the hard work and enthusiasm of the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the CPS working together as the prosecution team."

Pettitt's criminal activities date back to May 2003 when police recovered 92 kilograms of cocaine, with a street value of more than £14m, following the robbery of two of Pettitt's men in Croydon, South London.

In August 2003 police officers witnessed the transfer of a further 17 kilograms of cocaine in a car park in Bexleyheath, South London. A number of people were arrested as a result and a further 20 kg of cocaine was recovered.

Officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency went on to obtain evidence of telephone calls intercepted by Spanish authorities, and this evidence together with the evidence of the drugs seizures in London resulted in the conviction of Pettitt.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency worked in full co-operation with the Spanish authorities, painstakingly gathering evidence of Pettitt's involvement in these two drug seizures. This led to the issuing of European Arrest Warrants requesting his extradition to the United Kingdom. Pettitt was the last member of the gang to face justice.

  1. Pettitt was charged with an offence of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a prohibition on the importation of goods, namely Class A drugs, between 1 May 2003 and 30 August 2003.
  2. The five men involved in the Croydon incident were tried and convicted at the Central Criminal Court on 29.06.04:

    Nicholas Smith - 20 years imprisonment
    Shane Steven Williams - 20 years imprisonment
    John Barry Walton - automatic life sentence, minimum 11 years 5 months
    Raymond John Dyson - 18 years imprisonment
    William Albert Parker - 23 years imprisonment

  4. Following the seizure in August 2003, four men were convicted in April 2004:

    James Michael Smith - 22 ½ years imprisonment
    Anthony Trevor Walters - 10 years imprisonment
    Neil Christopher Baker - 14 years (pleaded guilty)
    Matthew Whaley - 18 years imprisonment

  6. As a result of this operation (Operation Celery), a number of seizures were made by UK authorities, which led to the arrest of 18 people who have received a total of 280 years' imprisonment, the seizure of £20,000,000 worth of drugs and the seizure of £3,250,000 and Euro 250,000 in cash.
  7. Photographs of Pettitt are available from CPS Press Office.
  8. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8127.