Exposed: The army's gun-smuggling soldiers
A group of British Army soldiers based in Germany have been convicted of attempting to smuggle guns and cocaine from continental Europe to sell to the London underworld.
A former member of an elite cavalry regiment masterminded the “well-planned” operation with the help of three Army colleagues on bases in Germany and criminal contacts in three countries.
Detectives said they would continue to investigate the extent of a gun-running racket involving members of the British military after a breakthrough in the analysis of supposed “secure” phones favoured by gangsters revealed the possible involvement of other soldiers.
The four serving or former soldiers were convicted at Woolwich Crown Court along with a criminal contact in London. Lemar Loveless was arrested six days after he quit the Queen’s Royal Hussars as he and a regimental colleague drove two BMWs to Britain from Europe with five guns and cocaine with a street value of more than £70,000. Silencers and dozens of rounds of ammunition were also discovered.
Officers seized their phones and recovered the messages from the BlackBerry messaging system that helped them piece together links between the soldiers, an Italian seller based in Germany and their potential London buyer, the court heard. The messages showed that Loveless, 26, and a former Army colleague Trave Dyce, 22, travelled to Amsterdam via Germany to collect guns and cocaine, which was hidden inside a ball of tape, impregnated with curry powder to put sniffer dogs off the scent.
Analysis showed that the guns were intended for delivery to Romone Marshalleck, 24, in Tooting, south London, to pass on to criminal networks. When police raided his home, they found pictures on his iPad showing him posing with a semi-automatic pistol and another picture of a gun and magazine with bullets spelling out the message: “F*** Love”.
Two serving soldiers, Lance Laurent, 26, of the Queen’s Royal Hussars and Duran Wright, 28, of the Royal Logistic Corps, were arrested and questioned at a German military base after messages showed their involvement in the operation. None of the guns seized – two German Walther PPKs and three Italian converted pistols – were Army issue, but obtained through an Italian contact based in Germany, the court was told.
Detective Inspector Chris Jones, of Trident Gang Crime Command, said the operation “led to the removal of five lethal firearms and ammunition, weapons which would inevitably have been used to commit acts of serious violence on the streets of London.”
The deleted BlackBerry messages only came to light at the end of last year following a technological breakthrough. While police believed they have caught the main players involved in the racket, two more soldiers could be questioned over their links with the five men. The four soldiers were convicted yesterday of conspiracy to import firearms and class A drugs. Marshalleck, the only civilian, was convicted of the firearms charge. They will be sentenced on Friday. The convictions followed the jailing last year of another former soldier, Ricardo McKenzie, who smuggled a cache of guns and ammunition from Iraq into the UK in a tank.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...