Alleged gang boss extradited for €13m drugs shipment trial
A MAN wanted by British police in connection with a massive drug trafficking operation has been extradited to Liverpool after losing his 18-month legal battle in the courts here.
Alleged crime gang boss Philip Baron faces four charges relating to money laundering and conspiracy to import a huge shipment of cocaine and cannabis to the UK from South Africa and Costa Rica between 2005 and 2009.
The drugs had an estimated street value of close to €13m.
Baron has been living in Straffan in north Kildare for more than 12 years in a luxury home at Bawnogues, New Road, outside the village and close to the exclusive K Club. He was arrested in May last year after an operation involving the garda national drugs unit and the British serious organised crime agency.
He was detained on a European arrest warrant and brought before the High Court for extradition proceedings.
Since then, he has been fighting his extradition through the courts. The High Court ruled against him last April and he lost his final appeal to the Supreme Court last week.
Baron (57), who is originally from Salford, Manchester, was extradited to Liverpool on Tuesday night. He appeared before Liverpool magistrates yesterday and was remanded in custody to appear at Liverpool Crown Court on December 5 when a date for his trial next year is expected to be set.
Seven members of an organised crime gang, which is alleged to have been controlled by Baron, were jailed for a total of 102 years in 2010 for their roles in the importation of the multi-million euro haul of cocaine and cannabis.
As part of a wider multi-agency operation led by the serious organised crime agency, nine people from other crime groups were sentenced to a total of 51 years for drug and money laundering offences.
The cocaine and cannabis shipment was valued on the basis of an assessment of ledgers and accounts that were seized in the UK.
The High Court heard that when Baron was arrested by gardai in Straffan he confirmed his name and photo on the warrant and replied "no" to all of the charges set out.
While living in Straffan, Baron worked in a hotel in north Kildare and was also a director of an Irish company with property interests in the UK.