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Conspiracy to Supply Drugs

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Drug Defence lawyers specialising in Conspiracy to Supply Drugs

If you or a friend are arrested or charged with a conspiracy to supply drugs you need expert advice.  Matthew Corn heads up the Serious Crime Department and a large proportion of the cases Matt undertakes invariably involves conspiracies to supply (and sometimes to import) class A, B or C drugs.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”us_widget_area_drugs”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row height=”auto”][vc_column]

What is a drugs conspiracy?

Many people are alarmed when faced with an allegation involving the word conspiracy as it suggests a plot or some sinister and sophisticated plan. In fact, whilst some conspiracies can be sophisticated and complex, in law the term conspiracy simply means an agreement with others to commit a crime.

In a drugs conspiracy the person accused is said to have entered into an agreement with others to supply (or sometimes import or produce) a quantity of class A , B or C drugs. An agreement in such cases is never a straightforward matter where someone signs a contract to act or participate in a conspiracy. Instead, the prosecution will adduce evidence to seek to  persuade a jury that they can infer a person’s participation in a criminal agreement by a number of ways including:

  • Their association with others who are involved in drug supply
  • Their phone contact and activity
  • Their travel and movement at material dates and time to relevant locations
  • Their possession of incriminating items – whether drugs or cash
  • Their lifestyle
  • Their previous history of criminality

Watch Matthew Corn explaining what conspiracy means

Roles within a conspiracy

Whilst some drugs cases are straight forward where somebody is caught in possession of a quantity of drugs and are charged with either possession or possession with intent to supply, a drugs conspiracy can be far more complicated.

The Prosecution often charge people with conspiracies where they have a number of suspects all associated with each other but sometimes they will charge someone on their own with a conspiracy because they are sure that the accused person was acting with others.  An advantage for the prosecution in charging a conspiracy is that a person can enter or leave a conspiracy at any time.  The conspiracy concerned might have lasted for example between a date in January to a date in December but your alleged involvement might only be a matter of days.  This would still allow the prosecution to charge you with a conspiracy on the basis that you entered the ongoing conspiracy and left it within a short period.

The Prosecution have to prove that the person charged entered into an agreement with others to supply drugs. The role that the accused person may well have occupied varies. The accused may be at the very top of the conspiracy, occupying a Leading role her or she was organising the operation and directing others beneath them. The accused may however be said to have occupied a significant role as street dealer. The person may be a drugs courier. The person may be looking after drugs by storing them at their home for a fee.  The person may be involved in mixing or bagging the drugs at a location on behalf of others.   At the lower end, the person charged may have been the victim of exploitation and forced to store drugs under threat or fear of violence. All of these roles would fulfil the criteria for a ‘conspiracy’.

What sort of evidence is relied on by the prosecution in a drugs conspiracy?

There are larger scale investigations, which will typically rely on for example the following types of evidence:

  • Surveillance by dedicated officers.
  • Cell site analysis of phones mapping locations of key persons in the conspiracy
  • Telephone data showing contact between the parties
  • ANPR evidence showing vehicles movements
  • CCTV evidence
  • Scientific evidence  – fingerprint, DNA

In some cases police are able to access text messages, WhatsApp content and of course, there are a number of cases which have been charged as a result of the discovery of material from Encro-Chat which has been widely publicised.  Olliers have experience of dealing with Encro-Chat cases.

What can Olliers do to help?

If you are arrested for a conspiracy to supply drugs you should contact Olliers who will attend at the police station to advise you.  Following that interview if you are granted bail or if you are released under investigation Olliers can assist you in making representations to the police in relation to the ongoing investigation. For example, if there is evidence that you hold which would undermine or even stop the prosecution case in its tracks at that very early stage then this can be communicated to them.

If you are unfortunately charged with the offence then Olliers will represent you every step of the way. You will appear initially at the Magistrates Court, but because  conspiracy is an ‘indictable only’ offence your case will automatically be sent to the Crown Court. Invariably it will then be handled by the Serious Crime Department headed up by Matt Corn and assisted by Alex Close-Claughton.  The approach we take is a proactive one. We will ensure all evidence is properly assessed.  Suitably qualified,  Senior Barristers are instructed and you will be seen regularly so that we can take your instructions and explain the evidence to you.

If the offence is denied, and you indicate that you did not enter into the criminal agreement as alleged, then we will prepare the case for trial. We will draft a detailed defence statement based on your instructions. All cases are unique and your defence might encompass a number of different aspects which we can set out in detail in the defence statement.  It is important that you provide us with as much information as possible because a defence statement is not only your chance to set out your side of the story but it can also request material from the prosecution which might undermine their case or assist your case (see video on defence statements).

Sentence 

In the event that you decide to plead guilty to a conspiracy or if you are found guilty by a jury, we will explain the position to you carefully as regards sentence.

The Sentencing  Council sets out guidelines as to the likely sentences for drugs offences.  A conspiracy is seen as an aggravating feature for the purposes of sentence but overall assessments of role whether Leading,  Significant or Lesser are key factors in determining sentence.  Also taken into account as is the quantity of drugs involved within the drugs conspiracy.  It follows also that Class A drugs are sentenced more severely than Class B or C drugs.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row height=”auto” disable_element=”yes”][vc_column]

Frequently Asked Questions

[/vc_column_text][vc_tta_accordion][vc_tta_section title=”Will I go to prison for a first time drugs offence?”]The answer to this question is not a simple one, it will depend on the offence, the class and quantity of drug. Just because it’s your first offence doesn’t automatically mean you will avoid prison. If you are convicted of being in possession of a relatively small amount of any class of drug, yes you are likely to avoid prison. You may even be cautioned by the police instead of appearing in to court. If you are convicted of supplying a Class C or B drug, you are at risk of a prison sentence but could still avoid it depending on the quantities involved. If you are convicted of supplying a Class A drug you are at significant risk of going to prison, even in low quantities. The judge will take into account your lack of previous convictions when they sentence you but it may not stop them from sending you to prison if they think the offence is serious enough.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Can you avoid prison for supplying Class A drugs?”]The best way to avoid prison if you are accused of suppling Class A drugs is to take the case to trial and win. However often the strength of the evidence means that the most sensible option is to plead guilty.  A person awaiting sentence for supplying or being concerned in the supply of class A drugs will usually expect a prison sentence. However, it is not unheard of for people to avoid prison. The sentencing guidelines that judges use to determine sentences indicate that those convicted of an offence relating to the supply of drugs directly to users will usually receive a prison sentence. However if not supplying directly to users, with low quantities and/or the offender is placed into a ‘lesser role,’ with credit for a guilty plea and good personal mitigation it may be possible to receive a suspended sentence.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Is sharing drugs with friends classed as supplying?”]In short yes it is. The offence of possession with intent to supply does not require any money to change hands. It is simply when one person ‘supplies’ drugs to other people. If you pick up some drugs for a Technically the act of passing a cannabis joint to a friend is supplying them with cannabis, even if the joint was passed to you by someone else and it wasn’t yours in the first place. This can be extrapolated up to more serious offending. Someone who knowingly looks after a larger quantity drugs for someone else and then gives it back to them or another person is guilty of supplying. The fact that there was no financial reward for the supply would be taken into consideration by a judge when sentencing but it certainly doesn’t amount to a defence.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”What is a leading role in drugs case?”]

A leading role is a role that an offender can be placed into when a judge decides on sentence for a drugs case. It will attract a longer sentence relative to the amount of drugs than a significant or lesser role. The following features are likely to attract a leading role-

  • directing or organising buying and selling on a commercial scale;
  • substantial links to, and influence on, others in a chain;
  • close links to original source;
  • expectation of substantial financial gain;
  • uses business as cover;
  • abuses a position of trust or responsibility.

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A lesser role is a role that a person is placed into by a judge when determining sentence in a drugs case. It attracts a lesser sentence than a significant role or leading role.

The following features of a case will result in a lesser role – performs a limited function under direction;

  • engaged by pressure, coercion, intimidation;
  • involvement through naivety/exploitation;
  • no influence on those above in a chain;
  • very little, if any, awareness or understanding of the scale of operation;
  • if own operation, solely for own use (considering reasonableness of account in all the circumstances).

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A significant role is a role that a person can be placed into by a judge when they decide on sentence. A significant role will attract a lesser sentence than a leading role but a higher sentence than a lesser role.

The following features in a case will result in a significant role- operational or management function within a chain;

  • involves others in the operation whether by pressure, influence, intimidation or reward;
  • motivated by financial or other advantage, whether or not operating alone;
  • some awareness and understanding of scale of operation

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Recent drugs cases

  • 2022 – Operation Praslin – Represented defendant in multi-handed conspiracy to supply class A. EncroChat case linked to Operation Venentic. 
  • 2022 – Operation Kamina – Represented defendant multi-handed conspiracy relating to supply of class A drugs in Manchester and across the North West.
  • 2022 – Operation Casino – Represented defendant accused of Conspiracy to Supply large quantities of Class A and B drugs on a national scale. Defendant avoided custody after offering a plea to a lesser offence.
  • 2021 – Operation Rampur – Manchester Crown Court – representing defendant in multi handed conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs.
  • 2021 – R v P – Manchester Crown Court – representing defendant in multi handed conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs
  • 2021 – R v F – Minshull Street Crown Court – representing defendant charged with supplying class A drugs and producing cannabis
  • 2021  – Operation Erath 3 – Manchester Crown Court; representing defendant charged with conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs
  • 2021 Leicester Crown Court – Operation Buster ; representing defendant charged as part of a multi handed importation, supply and production of Class A and B drugs.
  • 2020 – Operation Malling – Minshull Street Crown Court, representing defendant in multi handed allegation of supplying class A drugs
  • 2020 – R v A – Sheffield Crown Court, representing defendant charged with conspiracy to supply firearms, ammunition, class A drugs and also money laundering.
  • 2020 – Operation Nimrod – Southwark Crown Court. Representing defendant charged with supplying large quantities of class C drugs.
  • 2020 – Operation Erbium  – Sheffield Crown Court ; representing defendant charged with conspiring to supply class A drugs and transferring firearms.
  • 2020 – Operation Brutus – Warwick Crown Court; representing defendant charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
  • 2020 – Exeter Crown Court – Operation Release; Representing defendant charged with attempted murder, and conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
  • 2019 – Manchester Crown Court ; R v A and O. Represented two defendants charged with conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs
  • 2020 Operation Erbium – Sheffield Crown Court. Currently representing defendant in multi handed drugs and firearms conspiracy.
  • 2020 – Exeter Crown Court – Operation Release; Represented defendant charged with attempted murder, and conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
  • 2019 – Manchester Crown Court; R v A and O. Represented two defendants charged with conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs
  • 2019 –20  Leicester Crown Court – Operation Buster; representing defendant charged as part of a multi handed importation, supply and production of Class A and B drugs.
  • 2018 – Operation Cosmetic – Manchester Crown Court representing defendant charged with a conspiracy to supply class A drugs and possession of a firearms.
  • 2018-2019 – Operation Blush – Liverpool Crown Court. Representing defendant charged with conspiracy to possess firearms and to supply class A and B drugs.
  • 2019 – 20 Operation Quartz –Manchester Crown Court. Representing defendant charged with production of amphetamine.
  • 2018-2019 – Operation Hemisphere – Sheffield Crown Court. Represented defendants charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
  • 2017 – Operation Crew – Nottingham Crown Court. Represented defendant in multi handed conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
  • 2017 – Operation Legend  – Manchester Crown Court. Represented defendant in large scale drugs and money laundering conspiracy.
  • 2017 – Operation Jasper – Preston Crown Court.  Represented defendant in multi handed large scale conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
  • 2017 – Operation Crackle 3 – Birmingham Crown Court. Represented defendant conspiracy to supply heroin.
  • 2016-17 – Operation Afterburn II – Portsmouth Crown Court. Currently represented 2 defendants in a multi handed conspiracy to supply Class Drugs.
  • 2016 –  Operation Quad – Norwich Crown Court. Represented defendant in a conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
  • 2015-16  – Operation Calzone – Northampton Crown Court. Represented one of 19 defendants charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
  • 2015 – Operation Measure – Caernarfon Crown Court. Represented defendant in multi handed conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
  • 2015 – Operation Destiny – Leeds Crown Court. Represented two defendants charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and money laundering.
  • 2015 – Operation Wreckage – Manchester Crown Court. Represented defendant charged with conspiracy to supply Class B drugs.
  • 2014 – R –v– S  Liverpool Crown Court. Represented defendant charged with conspiring to import half a tonne of cocaine.
  • 2014 – R –v– R Liverpool Crown Court. Representing defendant charged with importation of drugs previously known as “legal highs”.
  • 2014 – Operation Cobweb – Teesside Crown Court, represented defendant in large scale conspiracy to supply Class A Drugs.
  • 2011 – Operation Dearly – Birmingham Crown Court. Acted for defendant in multi handed drug conspiracy to import cocaine from South America.

Contact a specialist drugs lawyer? (London & Manchester)

If you or a family member are facing a drugs allegation, contact Matt Corn or Matthew Claughton to discuss your case.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row height=”small”][vc_column width=”1/4″][ult_team team_img_grayscale=”off” img_hover_eft=”on” team_member_name_tag=”h4″ link_switch=”on” staff_link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.olliers.com%2Flawyers%2Fcorn-matthew%2F|title:Matthew%20Corn||” image=”id^5529|url^https://www.olliers.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Matt.jpg|caption^null|alt^null|title^Matt|description^null” name=”Matthew Corn”][/ult_team][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][ult_team team_img_grayscale=”off” img_hover_eft=”on” team_member_name_tag=”h4″ link_switch=”on” staff_link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.olliers.com%2Flawyers%2Fclose-claughton-alex%2F|title:Alex%20Close-Claughton” image=”id^5537|url^https://www.olliers.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Olliers-web30.jpg|caption^null|alt^Alex Close-Claughton|title^Alex Close-Claughton|description^null” name=”Alex Close-Claughton”][/ult_team][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][ult_team team_img_grayscale=”off” img_hover_eft=”on” team_member_name_tag=”h4″ link_switch=”on” staff_link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.olliers.com%2Flawyers%2Fclaughton-matthew%2F|title:Matthew%20Claughton||” image=”id^5677|url^https://www.olliers.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/matthew-claughtonv2.jpg|caption^null|alt^Matthew Claughton|title^matthew-claughtonv2|description^null” name=”Matthew Claughton”][/ult_team][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][ult_team team_img_grayscale=”off” img_hover_eft=”on” link_switch=”on” staff_link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.olliers.com%2Flawyers%2Frebecca-dimond%2F|title:Rebecca%20Dimond||” image=”id^5530|url^https://www.olliers.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Rebecca.jpg|caption^null|alt^null|title^Rebecca|description^null” name=”Rebecca Dimond”][/ult_team][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row height=”small”][vc_column width=”1/2″]

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