Drug dealer fights court order against £200m empire


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The Independent Online

One of Europe's most notorious drug dealers will "defend himself to the hilt" against a court order designed to prevent him running a criminal empire when he is freed from prison.

The solicitor for Curtis Warren, 48, confirmed that his client would be challenging a Serious Crime Prevention Order (SCPO), which is being applied for in the High Court by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).

Warren, who once featured on the Sunday Times Rich List, was jailed for 13 years in October 2009 after being convicted of trying to smuggle £1m of cannabis into the island of Jersey.

If the SCPO is granted by the High Court it would tie Warren into a series of restrictions, such as only being allowed to have one bank account and a single mobile phone, banned from carrying more than £1,000 in cash and prohibited from travelling outside the UK.

His solicitor, Keith Dyson, said: "We are aware of it and we are dealing with it. His reaction is to defend himself to the hilt. He will challenge it."

A Soca spokesman confirmed it was applying for the order. It is understood the case – the first SCPO to be applied for through the High Court – will be heard early next month.

In March this year, Warren, from Liverpool, lost a bid for freedom when he argued he should be freed after he claimed that police in Jersey illegally bugged a car driven by his right-hand man. The evidence was key in convicting him in 2009. In February Warren's QC told five lords at the Supreme Court there was an abuse of process. But the appeal was kicked out and the authorities have set their sights on seizing his alleged vast fortune.

After the appeal, Warren's barrister, Tony Barraclough, said his client intended on taking his fight to Europe after he was told the authorities wanted a confiscation hearing aimed at seizing assets worth around £200m.

The gangster – who once spent six years in solitary confinement and was at one time Europe's most wanted man – is serving his sentence at HMP Full Sutton in East Yorkshire.

Warren was arrested on the Channel island in 2007 soon after his release from 10 years in various Dutch prisons for running a huge drugs empire.

Following his sentence at Jersey's Royal Court, Soca said Warren was on its Lifetime Offender Management List. SCPOs are civil orders to prevent or deter serious crime and can last up to five years. Breach of an SCPO is a criminal offence punishable by up to five years' imprisonment and an unlimited fine.