1. ITV Report

Drugs gang boss jailed for 18 years

Philip Baron Photo: SOCA

The leader of a drugs empire which imported almost #110 million worth of cocaine and cannabis into the UK so he could lead a "lavish lifestyle" was today jailed for 18 years.

Philip Baron, 58 and from Salford, was the kingpin in an international cartel which smuggled cocaine from South America to Spain and then to the UK.

He imported two shipments of cocaine totalling 132lb (60kg), which had an estimated street value of #19.2 million, a sentencing hearing at Liverpool Crown Court was told.

Baron, who masqueraded as a legitimate businessman, also ran a sophisticated cannabis smuggling operation which was worth around #90 million.

Passing sentence, Judge David Aubrey QC said Baron, along with other members of his operation, sold the drugs on a "commercial scale" so "you could lead the life you did".

Sentencing Baron to 18 years in prison the judge said: "It was driven by avarice and greed."

"It was a trade and an empire and you cared not for the lives of others. You may have destroyed lives. It may have led people to commit crime. It may have led to despair and desperation. None of that concerned you. You were only concerned with yourself and leading a lavish lifestyle," he said.

Baron was a leading figure in an international ring who owned yachts and sports cars as well as luxury villas in Spain, all funded by drug money.

He admitted three counts including conspiracy to import cocaine between March and November 2008, conspiracy to import cannabis between September 2005 and September 2009, and money laundering.