Price of Drug Baron's Freedom: $300M

UK prisoner faces 10 more years if he doesn't pay up
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2013 3:43 AM CDT
Warren has spent most of the last 17 years in prison for cocaine and marijuana trafficking.   (AP Photo/ States of Jersey Police, ho)

(Newser) – Authorities in Britain have given one of the country's most notorious drug smugglers a choice: cough up $300 million in ill-gotten gains or spend another decade in prison. Prosecutors believe Curtis Warren amassed a huge fortune from years of trafficking and spent the cash buying houses, ski resorts, vineyards, and even soccer teams across Europe. But the 50-year-old—who has been in prison for all but 5 weeks of the last 17 years—says he is broke and whatever profits he did make were seized by Dutch authorities years ago.

"It's pathetic. I've been in jail 17 years," Warren tells the Guardian. "It's such a fantastic figure that it can't be met in any currency unless they are expecting Turkish lire or [old] Italian money, which is a million-note job." Prosecutors say a criminal of Warren's standing has "access to a wide variety of resources, methods, and personnel in pursuance of the concealment of assets around the world," but the trafficker complains that it will be impossible to prove he hasn't got anything squirreled away. "I have to prove I haven't got any assets. How do I prove that?" he asks. (Read more drug trafficking stories.)

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