Sunday, 20 July 2008

Timothy O'Toole has been jailed for 15 years in Spain updated

05:55 | ,

A briton has been jailed for 15 years in Spain after police infiltrated a £126m cocaine smuggling operation. Timothy O'Toole, 53, who has Manchester connections, acquired the Atlantic Warden fishing boat to run drugs from Latin America to Europe - not realising the skipper was an undercover Customs officer. The vessel was boarded by police off the west coast of Africa after a three-year operation.
James Carabini, 45, from Dublin, was acquitted.Trafficker Timothy Kieran O'Toole (53), gave his address as Limerick but was using a British passport when he was arrested in May 2005. O'Toole is also thought to have connections with Manchester. He is not known here to any of the garda national units or to senior garda officers in Limerick. However, Dubliner James Carabini (45) was cleared of the charges by the three-judge national criminal court in Madrid. Father-of-two Carabini, of Carnlough Road, Cabra, moved to Spain after he came to the attention of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB). As a result of a Cab investigation into his actions, Mr Carabini's social welfare payments were stopped and he and a friend had to hand over cash from an alleged overpayment. The Madrid court heard how an undercover international police operation, which had lasted three years, ended with the seizure of 3.5 metric tonnes of cocaine when a yacht was boarded off the Cape Verde Islands off Africa's west coast. O'Toole had supplied the Atlantic Warden boat for the cocaine run from Latin America after meetings with known drug dealers in Britain, Germany, Holland, Portugal and Spain. Those meetings were monitored by undercover police and customs officers from Britain, Spain and elsewhere. The court was told that O'Toole was believed to have been involved regularly in making contacts between South American cocaine barons and organised criminals in Europe. The haul on board the Atlantic Warden was headed for Galicia, on the northwest tip of Spain, from where it would have been distributed to the UK and other countries in northern Europe, the court heard. Several officers from British Customs and police forces in the UK were involved in Operation Warden which first began in 2003 when O'Toole attended a meeting in Hamburg, Germany, at which the acquisition of a yacht was discussed.
Other meetings took place in Marbella on the Costa del Sol; Faro on the Portuguese Algarve; in Holland; and in Britain including at Southampton, where the Atlantic Warden was berthed for a time. Also on trial were three Spaniards and one of them was acquitted of the charges along with Mr Carabini.
Convicted with O'Toole were Daniel Baulo Carballo (44) -- who was jailed for 17 years and six months as the leader of the attempt to bring the cocaine aboard the yacht to Spain -- and Gonzalo Ferreiro Soto, who was given a prison sentence of 13 years, six months and a day. All claimed they were victims of a police sting operation, which is not permitted under Spanish law. But the judges ruled that O'Toole and the two others had not been persuaded to commit the crime by the police, but had instigated the smuggling attempt themselves. What they had not realised was that undercover police and customs officers were monitoring their movements.

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