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UK court jails two for conspiracy to distribute drugs but no drugs were found

FCRO Subsection: 
Editorial Staff

The UK's National Crime Agency is on a roll. It's taken a while for the successor to so many different organisations to get its act properly together, demonstrating the constant shuffling around of people and responsibilities detracts from their ability to do the job. The men and women of the NCA are a hard-working and bright bunch and recent results show that if they are left to their own devices, and given time to execute sensible plans, they do exactly as they are supposed to do: get convictions, often where they were apparently unlikely. One, yesterday, makes the point nicely.

The NCA says "Brian Capon, 34, and Michael Downes 32, was so strong the pair pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply 58.5 kg of cocaine, 69kg of cannabis and 55kg of cannabis resin."

What is so impressive is that the NCA built the case without finding the drugs to which the charges relate. Even more impressive was that the NCA built the case in only two months, in 2017. Then it was handed over to the Crown Prosecution Service and almost exactly two years passed before the trial concluded in the absence of a third defendant, Kurt McDonough , who, witnesses say, took a ferry to Belfast since when the authorities have not heard or seen of him since. The NCA's response to that? "“Anyone helping McDonough or actively frustrating our efforts to find him could be arrested for assisting an offender."

During the rapid investigation, NCA officers monitored various forms of communication and searched several properties. They found "cash, cash counting machines and lists detailing drugs deals and money made from the selling of Class A and B drugs. It is from these debtors’ lists and covert recordings of conversations that led to the convictions."

The sentences were not light: Capon, originally of Moreton Avenue, Stretford, Manchester, and Downes, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty and were jailed for 16 years and eight months and 11 years respectively yesterday at Manchester Crown Court, says the NCA.

One hopes that whoever forms the next UK government doesn't spoil it all with another "hey, look what we are doing" reorganisation.

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