Guns and drugs smuggling soldiers jailed

Lemar Loveless
Image caption Lemar Loveless was the ringleader

Four British soldiers who tried to smuggle guns and drugs into the UK have been jailed.

The men, along with a fifth man, were caught after firearms, ammunition and cocaine were found in a car arriving at Folkestone from Calais in January 2012.

They were convicted of firearms and drugs charges on Monday after a six-week trial.

At Woolwich Crown Court they were given prison sentences ranging from six-and-a-half years to 14 years.

Describing it as "a carefully planned enterprise" Judge Philip Shorrock said: "The guns were intended for use by serious criminals. They would be used to kill or maim."

Drugs in boot

The court heard the gang was caught after armed police stopped two of the men in two BMW cars arriving at Folkestone on Eurotunnel last year.

Officers discovered five handguns and three silencers, while 500g of cocaine was found in an Army issue boot covered in duct tape and curry powder to disguise the smell.

Image caption There was a conspiracy involving four soldiers and their civilian contact, the court heard

Detectives believe the guns were destined for criminal gangs in London.

Ringleader Lemar Loveless, 26, of Brydon Walk, Islington, north London, who had resigned from the army in November 2011 and was on terminal leave, was jailed for 14 years after admitting conspiring to import firearms.

Lance Laurent, 26, of Gloucester Street, Battersea, south-west London, was sentenced to 12 years in jail after admitting conspiring to import firearms.

Both Loveless and Laurent were also found guilty of conspiring to import class A drugs.

Trave Dyce, 22, of Sydney Road, Smethwick, West Midlands, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years after he admitted conspiring to import drugs and firearms.

Romone Mashalleck, 25, a civilian, of Huron Street, Balham, south London, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in jail after being found guilty of conspiring to import firearms.

Duran Wright, a former regimental police officer in the Army, was jailed for 10 years.

The 28-year-old, of Jerningham Road, New Cross, south-east London, was found guilty of conspiring to import class A drugs and firearms.

Laurent had been a trooper with the Queen's Royal Hussars and Wright had been a lance corporal with the Royal Logistics Corps.

Dyce and Loveless had been troopers in the Queen's Royal Hussars. They were all based in Germany.

Marshalleck was their civilian contact in London.

Image caption Officers found five handguns and three silencers

Jurors heard Dyce, Laurent and Wright were serving soldiers while Loveless was on terminal leave ahead of his discharge from the Army.

Alison Saunders, of the CPS, said: "This was a planned conspiracy to bring weapons, ammunition and drugs into the UK organised by four soldiers, based in Germany, and their civilian contact in London."

She said the full extent of those involved was only discovered when phone data was "meticulously analysed and a picture of those involved was created".

She continued: "These deadly weapons could have gone on to be used in violent crimes.

"The high-purity cocaine that was imported had a street value of over £70,000 and would almost certainly have made big profits for criminal gangs while damaging lives."

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