A drug lord known as Britain’s Pablo Escobar, who has made a fortune of £200m and has been linked to Colombian drug cartels, is set to be set free after spending almost half of his life in prison.
Curtis Warren, 59, is set to be released in November after serving his last minimum sentence of 13 years and could be banned from Liverpool, where he was based.
Warren, known by the nickname “Cocky Watchman”, spent the early 1980s as a nightclub bouncer before moving into armed robbery and international drug trafficking in the 1990s, which allegedly involved the Escobar’s rivals, the Cali Cartel.
He was first sentenced to 12 years in 1996 for trying to move a £125million drug shipment from the Netherlands to the UK, was sentenced to a further four years for killing a fellow prisoner and just weeks after being released in 2007, was arrested again for a conspiracy to smuggle drugs into Jersey and jailed for a further 13 years.
Warren is expected to be released in November on a serious crime prevention order, according to the Times. He is currently in a high security prison in Worcestershire, believed to be HMP Long Lartin.
Curtis Warren, 59, could be freed within months after serving his final 13-year sentence – but will face restrictions
Warren (pictured arriving at the Royal Court in St Hellier, Jersey) after being found guilty of a £1million drug trafficking conspiracy by a jury
Warren has been linked to Colombian drug cartels and called Briton Pablo Escobar (his 1977 snap when he was arrested in Medellin) after the notorious drug criminal.
Warren, the only drug dealer to appear on the Sunday Times Rich List, who once had an estimated fortune of £200million, was jailed for 13 years in 2009 for a plot to smuggle £1million from cannabis in Jersey.
He also failed to pay a £198million forfeiture order and was told he would face a further 10 years in jail.
The drug lord is also on the National Crime Agency’s list of those who have received serious crime prevention orders.
The order, which will be in effect for five years, will restrict his ability to buy cars and property, borrow money, make transfers, hold trusts or stocks and use foreign or virtual currencies. . It is also about banning him from Liverpool, where people claim he hid £1m in plastic bags, and his former associates.
The consequences of not complying with the conditions will be a new prison sentence.
Warren was 12 when he dropped out of school and launched his criminal career when he was caught by police driving a stolen car.
At the age of 15, in 1978, he was sentenced to three months in a detention center and at 18 he was sent to Borstal for assaulting police officers.
In 1981, Warren was sentenced to two years in prison for attacking a prostitute and her client. He was 20 years old. The judge told him: “But for your youth, your sentence would have been much longer”.
Pictured: Cannabis seized during a States of Jersey Police investigation that brought down a drug conspiracy controlled from Merseyside by Curtis Warren
Upon his release, Liverpool police said Warren turned himself into a bouncer at clubs in the city, then started a business organizing bouncers and that at the age of 22 Warren allegedly sold cannabis and ecstasy.
According to a BBC podcast, Warren sailed in 1991 with Brian Charrington, also from Merseyside, who owned a yacht in Venezuela. There they were behind the importation of cocaine sealed in lead ingots.
HM Customs lead investigator Don Dewer told BBC 5 Live’s Gangster, a podcast about Warren’s activities, about another incident.
“They left Heathrow Airport in a Jaguar owned by Charrington, drove to a cafe in North London and eventually exited through Dover. They traveled to Brussels, then to Malaga, to Madrid, then one way paid in cash with hand luggage to Caracas,” Mr Dewer said.
“While they were there, they were seen meeting Mario Halley (a key member of the Cali Cartel), who had traveled from Amsterdam. This is when the expedition was organized.
After a failed drugs trial at Newcastle Crown Court in 1993, Warren reportedly told customs officers “I’m off to spend my £87million from the first shipment and you can’t touch me”.
Three years later, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison by Dutch authorities for attempting to move a £125million drug shipment from the Netherlands to the UK.
In 1996, Dutch police – who were listening to his phone calls – intercepted 400 kilos of cocaine (again encased in lead).
At other addresses controlled by Warren, they also found 1,500 kilos of cannabis resin, 60 kilos of heroin and 50 kilos of ecstasy.
Warren is set to be released in November under a serious crime prevention order from a Worcestershire high-security prison believed to be HMP Long Lartin, pictured
There were also 960 cartridges of CS gas, three guns, ammunition and £400,000 in Dutch guilders – the whole transport was estimated at £125 million on the open market.
Then, in 1999, Turkish prisoner Cemal Guclu was killed in the courtyard of Nieuw Vosseveld maximum security prison after Warren kicked him in the head.
Close friend Stephen Mee, 63, said: ‘That Turk was crazy. That same morning, he was trying to bite the guards. He attacked Curtis, and Curtis knocked him back several times. It wasn’t Curtis’ fault, that.
Warren said Guccu attacked him and it was in self-defense, but added four years to his sentence.
In 2007 he was released and returned to Liverpool, but was arrested again in Jersey a few weeks later on charges of conspiracy to smuggle cannabis.
When Judge Sir Richard Tucker imprisoned him for a further 13 years, Warren closed the book he passed to read and was escorted away by prison guards.
And in 2020 prison officer Stephanie Smithwhite (pictured) was jailed for two years after admitting misconduct in public office for a sexual relationship with Warren at Frankland Prison in Co Durham
And in 2020, Prisons Officer Stephanie Smithwhite was jailed for two years after admitting misconduct in public office for a sexual relationship with Warren at Frankland Prison in Co Durham between June and December 2018.
Smithwhite, denied punching a hole in the pants of his prison uniform for sex, but the judge who handed down the sentence in February 2020 said it was hard to imagine why he was there.
The court heard she had “fallen in love with the wrong man in the wrong situation” and exchanged hundreds of sexually explicit love letters with the infamous drug lord.
At his request, she sent him a picture of herself and admitted to kissing him and performing sex acts in his cell, a prison kitchen and a laundry room. In an interview, Smithwhite admitted to other sexual encounters.
She also admitted a second charge related to her failure to report that she knew he had access to a contraband phone. It was understood that this small handset was a so-called ‘jail phone’ somewhat larger than a £2 coin.