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UK boatbuilder charged with building boats for drug smugglers

By IBI Magazine

Crompton Marine owner Ian Rush was yesterday accused of building boats for drug smugglers in North Africa and Spain, according to a story on the BBC News website. Rush, according to prosecutors in the Ipswich Crown Court, continued to build the high-speed inflatables even after his partners, Richard Davison and Ellen George, were both arrested in March 2004. Rush has pleaded not guilty to plotting to obtain criminal property in connection with drug smuggling.

When Davison and George were arrested, almost 2 million was seized from their homes in Lowestoft and Malaga after a joint operation by customs officers in the UK and Spain. Simon Draycott QC, prosecuting, said that the 350,000 vessels the three built would be virtually undetectable on radar because they had a top speed of 60 knots (70mph).

"This was such a powerful boat it could carry a lot of drugs, a lot of contraband and still go so fast," Draycott told the jury. "It could outrun any maritime craft. Mr Davison, Ms George and Mr Rush knew those buying the boats wanted them for one reason, to transport drugs and contraband from North Africa to southern Spain."

Crompton Marine's website says that the company uses high-quality materials and designs in manufacturing its high-speed RIBs, and shows military-looking boats in rough ocean conditions. "Crompton Marine is acknowledged as expert in the installation of complex propulsion systems, including diesel and petrol inboard engines with water jets or stern drive propulsion systems and single, double, triple and quadruple outboard engines," read the site, adding: "A range of craft is produced to suit any user."

George pleaded guilty to possession of criminal property and money laundering. She is awaiting sentence. Davison remains on bail in Spain facing drug-smuggling charges. Rush's trial will continue.

(19 January 2007)

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