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Crime

More cocaine found on west Wales shoreline following police search operation

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FOLLOWING the discovery of £90m worth of cocaine on a west Wales beach last weekend, police have deployed significant resources to searches.

This was following intelligence being received that more of the class A substance was out there waiting to be found.

Not wanting this to fall into the wrong hands, specialist police teams ensured that a significant area of land and sea has been searched.

Police said searches were carried out by land, sea and air resulting in “the discovery of a number of packages of what we suspect to be cocaine”.

The cocaine is marked with a DIOR logo by the manufacturing cartel (Image: Police)

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys Police said: “We’ve been supported by neighbouring forces, the NCA and NPAS after packages of class A drugs were recovered from a beach in Ceredigion on Saturday (October 1).

“There have since been finds in a number of places along the coast, all of which have been seized by officers for analysis.

“Initial tests suggest the substance recovered is cocaine, however the packages will undergo further examination, which could take a number of weeks.”

A force spokesman told The Herald: “This has been a significant operation so far, which has involved a large amount of resources both from Dyfed-Powys, neighbouring forces and partner agencies.

“Since the discovery of a number of packages of what we suspect to be cocaine, ground, aerial and marine crews have all been dispatched to monitor the area in case there were further items at sea.

“We are aware that the public have seen a higher presence of police in the area than usual, and we would like to thank them for their vigilance, patience and support.

“The police presence will continue over the coming days, and we repeat our message that anyone who finds a package – or knows someone who has – should contact us immediately.

“The contents shouldn’t be touched, and partner agencies have been briefed on the risks associated with the possession of this find.”
Work is ongoing to establish how the bundles came to land ashore here and who they may belong to

On October 1, an unnamed project manager was walking along Tan-y-Bwlch beach, near Aberystwyth, when he came across the 30 black packages.

The packages were tied to empty jerry cans with rope to keep the Class A drugs afloat at sea.

The walker told The Ceredigion Herald: “I was out for my early morning walk when I saw something on the beach.

“I was intrigued and walked up to it and knew what it was almost straight away. An old lady called the police and they came around half an hour later.

“They cut open a bag and it looked like pure cocaine. They dragged it off the beach and took it away.”

A spokeswoman for Dyfed-Powys Police said last week: “We are investigating the discovery of a significant quantity of what is thought to be cocaine, spotted along the coast this weekend.”

“Enquiries are being undertaken to establish how such an unusually large amount of the controlled drug came to wash up on the Welsh shore, following recent storms.

“The precise quantity is still being established and at this time no-one has been arrested in relation to this matter.

“Officers have thanked those who found the packages and their sensible actions in reporting the matter immediately.”

The news comes after last month, over a dozen bricks emblazoned with a ‘Dior’ label washed ashore in the town of Biloxi, which sits on the Gulf of Mexico.

Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director Steven Maxwell said of that haul: “There was likely to be a large amount of drugs that either fell off a vessel or they were intentionally dropped off to be picked up by someone else or another group of individuals.”

One man was arrested for allegedly trying to remove one of the packages.

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Crime

Prolific child rapist from Pembrokeshire jailed for life

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A PEMBROKESHIRE man who raped and sexually assaulted young children, and posted images of the abuse to other paedophiles on the dark web, has been jailed for life.

Martyn Armstrong was identified after specialist National Crime Agency investigators reversed distortion filters he used to disguise his face in the images. The abuse began 17 years ago in June 2005 and continued to February 2011.

The 50-year-old was stopped and arrested by South Wales Police officers while driving on the M4 on 30 July 2022, following a request by the NCA.

Law enforcement partners across the world had been trying to identify the man in the abuse material ever since it was posted in 2010.

The images were referred to the NCA by Australian Federal Police in 2013, after they established they had been posted on dark web site, The Love Zone.

Some of the images showed the rape and sexual abuse of a toddler but, at that time, the perpetrator could not be identified because the images had been distorted.

In 2017 Italian investigators linked the name “Martyn” to the person who took the images, but they were unable to progress the case further.

In the same year a French investigator adopted the case and worked on identifying a beach which had been seen in some images linked to the offender.

After conducting significant research on the geology of the landscape, he established that rocks on the beach in the photo must either be in Ireland or Wales. He compared them to images of over 60 beaches before striking an exact match on the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales.

The case remained unsolved until 2022, when NCA investigators created a new programme which finally disabled the image distortion technique. This revealed the face of the offender but his identity, and that of his victim, was still unknown.

The NCA team worked on the name “Martyn” and established that a Martyn Armstrong had links to the beach, by matching an image from his social media profile with the abuse images.

It was discovered that at the time of the abuse, Armstrong lived in Derbyshire but he had sold his house in January 2022 and moved close to the same Welsh beach identified by investigators.

Officers compared and matched pictures from the estate agency listing for the Derbyshire house to some of the original abuse images taken in 2009.

Following his arrest, NCA investigators found a number of devices in Armstrong’s home, including one of the two cameras he used in 2010. This was forensically matched to the camera which took the images.

The original indecent images of children (IIOC) he’d posted were also recovered from a laptop.

Investigators also discovered material showing Armstrong abusing two previously unknown child victims saved on his devices. All three victims were spoken to and safeguarded.

Armstrong was charged with 20 counts of rape on a child under 13, one count of assault by penetration, three counts of sexual assault, five counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, and one count of making and one count of distributing 204 category A (the most serious) IIOC.

He pleaded guilty to these offences at Cardiff Crown Court on 21 September 2022.

He then pleaded guilty to further charges on 10 November, including being in possession of 4,105 IIOC (in categories A-C), two counts of assault by penetration, one count of sexual assault, one count of making and one count of distributing IIOC in relation to the second victim and one count of making and one count of distributing IIOC relation to the third victim.

At the same court today (4 January), he was sentenced to life in prison with no minimum term.

NCA Operations Manager Martin Ludlow said: “It is over 17 years since Armstrong began to abuse these young children. I don’t believe he thought he would ever be caught and that the distortion techniques he used would protect him.

“However, the NCA and our international partners were determined to ensure his evil actions did not go unpunished.

“Our commitment to identifying him was unwavering and ultimately, NCA officers developed a completely new programme which led to his unmasking. Investigators did a remarkable job in piecing together limited information to finally reveal that Armstrong was the person in these images.

“We will continue to work together and do all we can to bring offenders like Armstrong to justice and protect innocent children from child sexual abuse.”

Lucy Dowdall of the CPS said: “The abuse that Armstrong subjected his victims to was horrific.

“Despite the passage of time and the steps he had taken to hide his identity, the CPS built a robust case against him resulting in guilty pleas.

“The investigation conducted by the NCA officers was exceptional, and we thank them for their diligent work.

“The CPS are committed to bringing those who sexually abuse children to justice, whenever our legal test is passed, and we will continue to work with our partners in the police to do so.”

BOX OFF

Charge sheet

For victim one (between December 2009 and February 2011):
20 x of rape of a child under 13
One x assault by penetration
Three x sexual assault
Five x causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity
One x making indecent images of children (204 category A images)
One x distributing indecent images of children (204 category A images)

For victim two (between January 2005 and January 2007):
Two x assault by penetration
One x sexual assault
One x making indecent image of a child
One x distributing an indecent image of a child

For victim three (in August 2010):
One x making an indecent image of a child
One x distributing an indecent image of a child

General possession of IIOC (between January 2005 and July 2022):
One x category A (789 images)
One x category B (989 images)
One x category C (2,327 images)

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Crime

20 months for woman who kept drugs hidden in a hedge

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A NORTH Pembrokeshire woman would make trips to get drugs hidden in a hedge adjoining her property, and from a blue Jewson’s bag in her front garden, as part of a UK-wide drug running operation, Swansea Crown Court heard.

Leonie James, 33, admitted being involved in conspiracy to supply cannabis as part of the Pembrokeshire- Dorset drugs ring busted earlier this year during Operation Rookley.

The court heard on Friday (Dec 16) that James’ home in Precelly Crescent, Goodwick was put under police surveillance between July last year and January 2022.

Officers witnessed drugs being delivered by couriers to the home that James shared with ringleader Shaun Lucas. The court heard that James was present at the home ‘on many occasions when such supplies were taking place’.

The drugs were then stashed outside the house, in the front garden and in a hedge adjoining a neighbouring property.

James was seen making frequent trips from the house to these stashes with these trips coinciding with visitors coming to the house to buy drugs.

The court was then given details of occasions in September last year when James had either gone to the hedge of the Jewson’s bag within minutes of a visitor arriving at the house.

“The defendant was taking drugs from the stash and being concerned in the supply to other persons,” said Jim Davies, prosecuting, saying that she had acted as Lucas’ ‘assistant’.

James had also travelled to Merseyside with Lucas in February of this year on what was described as a ‘drugs related trip’.

Mr Davies stated that the known amount of cannabis involved was in the region of 40 kilogrammes.

Police had also seized £26,000 and £15,000 from two separate couriers involved in the operation.

James was arrested on March 14 this year and gave a no comment interview before pleading not guilty to conspiracy to supply both cannabis and cocaine.

On November 24 this year James changed her plea on the cannabis charge to guilty. The crown then offered no evidence on the cocaine charge and a formal not guilty verdict was recorded.

In James’ defence it was said that she had already spent nearly five months in custody and two months with an electronic curfew.

A probation report said that there was a significant prospect of rehabilitation and a low prospect of reoffending. She had one previous conviction for driving while under the influence of cannabis and an unrelated caution going back to 2012.

“She has her own difficulties and health problems that she is battling with,” said her barrister, adding that she was a mum of four young children.

He maintained that she had a ‘lesser role and a relatively limited function under the direction of those running the operation’ and that there was a ‘degree of naivety on her part’.

“It wouldn’t be right to say that there was no influence from those above in the chain, she was in a relationship with one of them,” he said.

Judge Her Honour Catherine Richards KC said that she would not send James back to prison as ‘it would be unjust on you and those who depend on you’.

“You supported your partner in his enterprise,” she told James. “There is no evidence of an operational or controlling role. You helped supply customers and allowed drugs to be stored on your premises and handled cash when needed.

“You have spent a considerable time in prison already and time on curfew.”

Judge Richards handed down a 20-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months with a 25 day rehabilitation requirement.

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Crime

Police investigating theft of cash from a Pembroke Dock establishment

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POLICE are investigating a burglary which occurred at ‘Y Cerrig Glas’ Public House in Front Street, Pembroke Dock.

A quantity of cash was stolen from the premises in the early hours of Tuesday, November 1.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation, or anyone who was in the street between midnight and 5am and saw any suspicious activity, is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Quote reference: DP-20221101-098

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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