Man extradited to the UK admits role in drug smuggling operation

Tuesday 26 March 2013 22.16
Philip Baron is due to be sentenced in court in Liverpool in June
Philip Baron is due to be sentenced in court in Liverpool in June

A man, who was extradited to the UK after living in Ireland for 15 years, has admitted his role in a multi-million euro drugs smuggling operation.

Philip Baron had lived in a luxury house in Straffan, Co Kildare, and posed as a businessman.

He was investigated by the Garda National Drugs Unit before being sent back to England after losing appeals to the High Court and Supreme Court.

Today he pleaded guilty to three charges relating to money laundering and conspiracy to import cocaine and cannabis to the UK from South Africa and Costa Rica between 2005 and 2009.

He is due to be sentenced in court in Liverpool this June.

During the 15 years that he lived in Ireland, Baron was running an international drugs smuggling network, which imported at least 52 tonnes of drugs into the UK and laundered millions.

He and his criminal organisation bought cocaine in South America and cannabis in North Africa, had them concealed and sent to Europe.

They used the stolen details of legitimate companies and law abiding citizens to import the drugs.

The cocaine and cannabis were professionally wrapped, boxed and labelled with the logos of well-known international companies.

Baron also dealt directly with international drugs traffickers. He met members of a South American drug cartel at a hotel in Escazu, Costa Rica, to arrange the purchase of cocaine.

He also operated a sophisticated method of communication, which was discovered by a garda unit when they raided his home in Co Kildare.

Gardaí were working with the Spanish police and the UK's serious organised crime agency.

Baron was arrested by the Garda National Drugs Unit and for a year-and-a-half fought extradition to the UK in the courts, but he lost that battle in November 2012.

He pleaded guilty to money laundering and drugs charges in Liverpool today.