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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

Find out more about prosecution policy for drug offences

CPS ends Venezuelan drug plot

14/05/2008

A plot to smuggle cocaine with a street value of £40m from Venezuela in a speedboat finally sank today with convictions at Woolwich Crown Court, London.

The jury heard that in late 2006 Stromberg and Clough travelled to Venezuela where Clough purchased a speedboat, the 'Samantha', on Margarita Island with the intention of shipping it by container to Portugal. However, in February 2007 the Venezuelan authorities examined the boat by x-ray in a warehouse in Puerto Cabello, from where it was to be shipped to Europe. This revealed 300 blocks concealed skilfully within the fibreglass hull of the vessel and in total 337 kilograms of cocaine were beneath the area of the fuel tank.

Alison Saunders, Director of the CPS Organised Crime Division said: "The charge of conspiracy to commit an offence outside the United Kingdom is rarely used in this country in other than terrorism cases and reflected an innovative approach on the part of the CPS Organised Crime Division to this type of criminality. It reflected the actions of the defendants in conspiring in the United Kingdom to commit to a course of conduct in a foreign country which would be an offence in both jurisdictions.

"Organised crime knows no borders and we are increasingly working with partners both here and abroad to ensure that we are in a position to tackle it. If this means travelling to other parts of the world to obtain assistance or utilising the tools at our disposal in innovative ways, then we will to reduce the harm caused by organised crime.

Before the trial we visited Venezuela and have had excellent cooperation throughout the investigation and trial with the Venezuelan authorities".

Paul Stromberg was found guilty by the jury of conspiracy to commit a [drug trafficking] offence outside the United Kingdom contrary to Section 1A of the Criminal Law Act 1977. Paul Clough had earlier pleaded guilty to the same offence and awaits sentence. Stromberg had also earlier pleaded to a charge of possession of class A drugs (cocaine) with intent to supply.

These convictions are the result of a joint operation between the Venezuelan police and Serious Organised Crime Agency. The case was prosecuted by the CPS Organised Crime Division.

The drugs had a purity of 81 per cent - in effect almost pure cocaine - and the ultimate destination of these drugs was the United Kingdom where the cocaine would have had a street value of over £40 million.

The prosecution case was that Stromberg was very close to the original source of the drugs and played an important role in the conspiracy, together with others in Venezuela.

  1. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7710 6088.
  2. The trial of Paul Stromberg opened at Woolwich Crown Court on 28 April 2008.
  3. Paul Kevin Stromberg and Paul William Clough were charged on a three count indictment: as follows:
    • Count 1
      Paul Stromberg faced count one alone of possessing a controlled drug of class A with intent to supply contrary to Section 5(3) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. He pleaded guilty to this at the start of the trial.

      Paul Kevin Stromberg and Paul William Clough were charged together on two further counts:

    • Count 2
      Conspiracy to commit an offence outside the United Kingdom contrary to Section 1A of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
    • Count 3 (not put to jury)
      Conspiracy to participate in a drugs trafficking offence outside the United Kingdom, contrary to Section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
  4. Stromberg pleaded guilty to count one and not guilty to count two, Clough pleaded guilty to count two and count three was left on file.
  5. The jury were not put in charge of count three for Stromberg only count two.
  6. The essence of the S 1A offence reflected the extra territorial nature of the offending by conspiring in the United Kingdom to commit to a course of conduct in a foreign country which conduct would be an offence in both jurisdictions.
  7. An offence under Section 1A Criminal Law Act 1977 is one of the limited categories of offences that require the consent of the Attorney General. (Section 4 (5) Criminal Law Act 1977) This was sought and approved by the Attorney General in August 2007.
  8. On the 24th February 2007 337kg of powder containing cocaine was seized from a boat which was located in a warehouse in Venezuela. The cocaine was concealed within its fibreglass hull. In due course it was to be transported to Europe where the cocaine would be sold.
  9. Forensic examination of this cocaine showed its purity to be 81%: in effect almost pure cocaine. In due course this cocaine would have been cut or mixed with agents, prior to sale thereby more than doubling the weight and increasing the profits.
  10. The conspiracy involved a number of other people, some based in Venezuela. Paul Clough lived in Leeds. Paul Stromberg was living in Abergavenny, Gwent.
  11. The Crown Prosecution Service is the Government Department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution;
    • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute;
    • Preparing cases for court;
    • Presentation of cases at court;

    The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,400 people and prosecuted 1,091,250 cases with an overall conviction rate of 83.7% in 2006-2007. Further information can be found on this website.