Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Drug addict says prison saved him

A reformed drug addict has said prison and the probation service have helped him rebuild his life.

After losing six members of his family, Steven Weir, became dependent on hard drugs, gave up his job and started sleeping rough in Nottingham.

He is now turning his back on his old lifestyle and is hoping to find work helping users.

He praises the approach to dependency problems which was taken at his probation hostel.

Mr Weir said: "For the seven years that I've been really badly addicted to drugs - I spent six trying to get off.

"Going to prison saved my life and the second time of life saving was coming to his place (the probation hostel).

"It's given me the time to focus on myself and the problems I have with drugs, bereavement and depression."

As a result of the support he received, Mr Weir is now looking to start again by getting a new job.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Bag handler guilty of smuggling

A Heathrow Airport baggage handler played a "crucial" role in a cocaine smuggling ring, a court has found.

Kamaljit Bassi, 40, from Hayes in Middlesex, admitting taking parcels from two passengers' bags last year.

But he said he had been expecting them to contain diamonds, not drugs. Customs officers removed 11kg of cocaine from the parcels before they reached the UK.

Bassi was found guilty of two counts of conspiring to import controlled drugs at Guildford Crown Court.

Prosecutor Andrew Bird told jurors at the start of the trial in May that Bassi's role in the plot had been "crucial".

"Just imagine that those who organise drugs smuggling have access to an inside man at Heathrow Airport," he said.

"A man who can remove the precious and forbidden cargo and take it out through controls using privileges that airport insiders have.

"This is Mr Bassi's role on both counts."

Bassi's fellow conspirators Junior Royes, 39, of Kensal Green, London, and Brian Emile, 49, Greenford, west London, were each convicted of one count of conspiracy to import controlled drugs.

All three men will be sentenced on Friday.

Two unsuspecting drug mules also arrested last year were cleared of any role in the scheme.

Carlton Joseph, 54, of north London and 19-year-old south London child-minder Rachelle Chapman, flew in separately from Brazil and Guyana on 16 February 2003.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Uribe denies drugs cartel links

Colombia's government and the US have denied that President Alvaro Uribe collaborated with a powerful drugs cartel more than a decade ago.

Recently declassified US military intelligence from 1991 appears to show that Mr Uribe had links to the notorious Medellin drugs cartel.

The unnamed source even describes Mr Uribe as a "close personal friend" of late cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar.

But Bogota dismissed the allegations as an attempt to smear the president.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Arrested youths tested for drugs

Teenagers arrested in three London boroughs for drug-related crime will be tested for Class A drugs from Sunday.

Camden, Newham and Southwark are taking part in the government scheme alongside seven other areas in England.

Fourteen to 17-year-olds charged for a "trigger offence", such as, burglary, car crime and theft, will be tested for heroin, crack and cocaine.

Those that test positive will be referred to specialist youth workers who will hope to address their needs.