Drug mastermind jailed for 30 yearsBy Daily Telegraph Correspondent
Brian Brendan Wright, 60, used yachts to bring cocaine ashore
A gambler who rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous on Britain's racecourses has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role as head of a £300 million international cocaine trafficking operation.
Brian Brendan Wright, 60, was yesterday found guilty of conspiracy to evade prohibition on the importation of a controlled drug and conspiracy to supply drugs after jurors at Woolwich Crown Court deliberated for 24 hours and 59 minutes.
Judge Peter Moss sitting at Woolwich Crown Court told Wright: "You were a master criminal; manipulative, influential and powerful...
"You played for the very highest stakes and won, for a number of years, a luxury lifestyle.
"You knew the consequences of detection and conviction."
The scale of Wright's criminal network was enormous. A police and Customs investigation discovered that he organised the use of yachts to bring three tonnes of the drug, which originated in South America, into Britain.
The Irish-born trafficker used horse racing and his contacts in the industry to launder the proceeds of his operation.
A statement by Customs released after the case said: "UK Customs investigators, working hand in hand with their counterparts in the United States, succeeded in dismantling what is probably the most sophisticated and successful global cocaine trafficking organisation ever to target the UK.
"This has resulted in successful prosecutions at all levels of the conspiracy, from the Colombian suppliers, to the transporters, to the members of the UK distribution network and ultimately [to] the head of that network, Brian Brendan Wright."
Operation Extend led officers across Ireland, the Caribbean, the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, Australia, France, South Africa, Switzerland, Spain and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Their 11-year investigation saw 19 convictions worldwide, excluding Wright.
There were seven trials, one of which lasted 14 months, making it the longest Customs trial yet and, at the time, the second longest trial in English criminal history.
Wright was nicknamed The Milkman "because he always delivered" and it is rumoured that his Spanish villa was known as El Lechero (The Milkman).
As the net closed in, he fled to Northern Cyprus in 1999, beyond the reach of the British authorities. He was arrested when he emerged in Spain in 2005 and was swiftly extradited
Benjamin Arellano Felix
The US 'War On Cocaine' is lost
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24