Behind the Bawdsey smuggling plot

TODAY The Evening Star completes its investigation into The Bawdsey Smuggling Plot which lead to seven men being jailed for twenty-five-and-a-half years at Woolwich Crown Court.

By Lisa Baxter

TODAY The Evening Star completes its investigation into The Bawdsey Smuggling Plot which lead to seven men being jailed for twenty-five-and-a-half years at Woolwich Crown Court. Two key players in the drug smuggling operation were Leonard Haworth nicknamed "Pugwash" and Angel Jimenez, who was known as "Kermit".

SEASONED smuggler Leonard Haworth was employed as a "specialist" by gangleader Mark Rothermel for his expert knowledge of the sea.

The island boatbuilder met fellow drug trafficker Angel Jimenez in a foreign prison where they forged a friendship, which would be linked, to a series of major blackmarket operations.

Nicknamed "Pugwash", Haworth had an addiction to the sea which saw him designing vessels for drug traffickers as well as those whose job it was to beat the blackmarket trade.

In and out of prison for drug smuggling over the past three decades, 54-year-old Haworth developed a state-of-the-art craft from his boatyard in the Isle of Wight and said it could be used to help customs officials beat smuggling.

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But two years after he unveiled the £38,000 speed boat at the European Workboat Show in 1993, he was jailed for nine-years for his part in a multi-million pound smuggling scam and forced to sell his revolutionary Interceptor boat (which he claimed was invisible to the naked eye at one mile and had no radar image at two) to pay back some of the cash he pocketed via the drugs trade.

Haworth once owned jewelry shops in Ventnor and Shanklin but ditched the trade in 1979 to dabble in land speculation indulge his passion for the marine industry, operating a fishing boat out of Bembridge Harbour.

But alongside his legitimate business interests, the Isle of Wight dad was involved in a far more sinister and lucrative trade - drugs smuggling.

On the morning of June 20, 1986, Haworth was skippering the holiday yacht "Lord Louis" off the French coast in the Gulf of Lyons, when customs officers asked the boat into port for a routine search.

The following day, sniffer dogs searched the boat again and Haworth and his two crew were charged with smuggling. French customs officials said they had recovered three packets of cannabis in the sea and that they had seen them thrown from the yacht.

Haworth was jailed for eight years at a court in Narbonne in June, 1987. He served five years before returning to the Isle of Wight where he maintained his claim that he had been framed. While in jail, Haworth's marriage to the mother of his two young boys broke down and she divorced him.

Back on British soil, Haworth concentrated on an obsession he had cultivated in prison in France where he designed a self-righting in-shore patrol/rescue boat.

Two years after his release from a continental jail, a 45-year-old Haworth revealed his 24-foot Stealth Interceptor patrol boat, capable of reaching speeds over 40 knots and costing potential buyers £38,000.

Managing director of boat-building firm Haworth Marine International, Haworth said he had received inquiries from security agencies in the UK and abroad about the vessel.

Twelve months after revealing his crime-busting boat to the world, Haworth was busted for drugs smuggling in an uncannily similar scenario to last May's raid at Bawdsey Quay.

Armed police picked up the boatbuilder and a gang of ten others at a beach on Hayling Island, near Portsmouth, in November 1993. Angel Jimenez - who went on to captain the speedboat to Bawdsey - was among the ten.

Haworth was jailed for nine years for his part in the smuggling operation. He was ordered to sell the Interceptor so that he could pay back some of the £356,000 he pocketed from the drugs trafficking operation.

His old cell-mate Jimenez, who was then 32, was jailed for five years and ordered to pay back £1,880 of the £24,100 he made out of the smuggling scam.

Even behind bars, Haworth continued to indulge his passion for the open sea, teaching other criminals the art of boat building.

Responsible for the design and supply of the boat used to bring the drugs stash from Holland to Bawdsey, Haworth admitted his part in the plan at the start of the trial and was jailed for three-and-half-years (two-and-a-half-years for cannabis and one for smuggling powder containing amphetamines

Jimenez was a French marine engineer with previous convictions for drug smuggling, Jimenez met Leonard Haworth in a French prison where the two established a criminal friendship, sharing their expertise on smuggling by sea. The jail-mates first joint enterprise ended in disaster however, when Jimenez was sentenced to five years in prison in 1995 for his part in an unsuccessful smuggling scam with Haworth. Going by the nickname 'Kermit', the 38-year-old highly experienced sailor was called into the Bawdsey operation late on to steer the high-speed boat to and from Holland on the drug-run. He pleaded guilty to the two smuggling charges at the start of the trial last month and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison - two-and-a-half years for cannabis smuggling and a year for amphetamine smuggling.

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