Norfolk: Man Who Fled To Mexico Jailed

15 February 2013, 16:00 | Updated: 15 February 2013, 16:10

A man's been jailed for money laundering 15 months after he went on the run to Mexico.

A 43-year-old man who fled to Mexico to evade justice has been jailed for more than nine years for his part in a sophisticated money laundering and drugs operation in Thetford.

Colin Mark Hargreaves, of Bethnal Green, London, left the country shortly before he was due to go to court in August 2011.

He finally gave himself up in November 2012 after 15 months on the run and appeared before Norwich Crown Court yesterday (where he was sentenced by Judge Bate to nine years and six months in jail.

Hargreaves had been found guilty of money laundering and drugs offences after a week-long trial held in his absence in the August.

Det Con Simon Stephenson of King's Lynn CID, said: "Hargreaves did everything possible to try to evade capture and being put before the courts.

"This is the end of a case which spanned a number of years and sees the final member of the operation finally face justice.

"We are pleased with the outcome of this case which goes some way to providing reassurance to members of the public. 

"The targeting of individuals involved in the supply of illegal drugs remains a priority for Norfolk Constabulary and we will continue to focus our energy on disrupting this activity."

The money laundering related to the purchases between April 2006 and April 2009 of a £10,000 motorbike, a ring costing nearly £23,000 and a holiday home in Sussex and possession of nearly £340,000 of cash between 2004 and 2010.

The drugs offences included conspiracy to produce controlled drugs, namely cannabis, between 2008 and 2009, and possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply in July 2010.

Thermal imaging cameras had highlighted an issue around heat over factory units in Roman Way, Thetford, in early December 2009 and officers from the Protective Services Tactical Crime Unit had conducted a raid later in the month.   

As officers tried to gain entry there was a strong smell of cannabis and during the search they discovered over 750 cannabis plants growing in Units 8 and 10.  A sophisticated hydroponics network had been set up with the plants in all stages of development set out in the rooms inside the units.

Three other male co-defendants pleaded guilty to drugs and money laundering offences in December 2010 while a further two women were found guilty of money laundering in August 2011.