In Layer Cake (2004) Daniel Craig’s character told us “that one day, all this drug monkey business will be legal”.
Eleven years later and it’s still not. In fact, earlier this year the Serious Crime Act came into force which created new offences in relation to Organised Crime further tightening the authorities grip on the so-called underworld. What’s more, this is on top of the heightened sentencing guidelines for persons convicted of drug trafficking offences that came into force in February 2014.
On Monday 10th August 2015, Channel 4 aired an episode of Brits Behind Bars focusing on The Peru Two, Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum, who were convicted of trying to smuggle just under 11 kilos of cocaine from Peru to Spain.
The cocaine was valued at £1.5M and Miss Reid and Miss McCollum were sentenced to six years and eight months imprisonment for their part in the operation. Which in my opinion was a lenient sentence, but this was in Peru.
Today, in the UK, a kilo of importation level purity of cocaine will cost you either £50,000 or fourteen years imprisonment, depending on which tariff you use.
There are numerous reports detailing how traffickers are paid in the region of £1,000 per kilo of cocaine they smuggle across the border into the UK. Those are the ones who are fortunate to do it on a voluntary basis.
There are then those who do it under duress and their remuneration is that they and their closest family members stay alive.
As criminal defence lawyers, it is our job to get the best result for our clients, whether that’s successfully presenting our clients defence, whatever it may be, or agreeing a basis of plea on our clients behalf to ensure they receive the lowest sentence possible.
Read – Roger Sahota’s and Nicholas Yeo’s article on the Serious Crime Act
Watch – Brits Behind Bars: Cocaine Smugglers on Channel 4.
By Goran Stojsavljevic, Criminal Dept.