CRIME

The “Wikipedia narco” gets 15 years for smuggling cocaine into Spain

Alicante court finds notorious dealer Brian Charrington – alleged to update his entry on the online encyclopedia – guilty of shipping 192 kilos of drugs from South America

Brian Charrington near the court in Alicante, in a February photo.
Brian Charrington near the court in Alicante, in a February photo.MORELL / EFE

A court in Alicante has sentenced British drug trafficker Brian Charrington to 15 years and six months in prison for smuggling 192 kilograms of cocaine from South America into Spain between 2012 and 2013.

Charrington, who is originally from Teesside, in northeast England, was on Europe’s most-wanted list when police raided his home in 2013. He was operating out of the Costa Blanca, where he owned numerous properties that police believe also served as hideouts for other wanted criminals.

At the trial, he claimed to be a real estate entrepreneur and law-abiding taxpayer

He is known in Spain as “el narco de la Wikipedia” because he allegedly updated his own Wikipedia biography, which listed his prolific criminal career after starting out as a car dealer who “eventually built a criminal empire with links to Germany, France, Spain and Austria as well as connections in South America and the United States.”

Charrington, who has previously served time for drug trafficking in Germany and France, has now been found guilty of crimes against public health and money laundering, and ordered to pay more than €31.2 million in fines. His son Ray Charrington has also been convicted of money laundering.

In its ruling, to which EL PAÍS had access on Tuesday, the provincial court of Alicante said that the drugs were brought into the port of Altea, a small resort near Benidorm, on a yacht with fake identification papers. Two of Charrington’s aides were handed 10- and 12-year sentences for criminal association.

Five more defendants were acquitted of all charges, including Charrington’s partner Isabelle Danielle Lydie Robert, who is already serving a nine-year sentence for drug trafficking imposed by Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional.

At the trial, the 61-year-old drug baron denied the charges and claimed he is a real estate entrepreneur and law-abiding taxpayer. “I buy and sell villas and I pay my taxes,” he told the court.

His gang was broken up in July 2013 as part of a joint operation between Spain’s organized crime police unit (Greco) and law enforcement agencies from Venezuela, France, UK, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil. The police impounded assets worth €5 million, including a dozen luxury properties, high-end vehicles, six recreational craft and bank accounts.

Charrington had previously been arrested in Spain in 1997 for allegedly participating in the purchase of four tons of hashish.

English version by Susana Urra.

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