Jeweller on trial for laundering drugs cash
A CENTRAL Market jeweller accused of buying significant amounts of gold bullion to launder a drugs gang’s money has appeared in the Royal Court for the first day of his trial.
Darius James Pearce, who is representing himself, is facing three counts of becoming concerned in the acquisition, use, possession or control of criminal property.
In September, seven people were jailed for a combined 74 years for their role in a plot to smuggle just under £1 million of class A and class B drugs into the Island on a sailing yacht.
The plot was foiled by the States of Jersey Police and Jersey Customs and Immigration Service as part of Operation Lion, which lasted for several months and involved hundreds of hours of undercover surveillance.
Crown Advocate Matthew Maletroit, outlining the prosecution’s case, alleged that Pearce played a pivotal role in the gang’s operation by facilitating the movement of the cash from Jersey to the UK.
He claimed that, as part of the alleged conspiracy, gang members would drop off a sum of cash in Mr Pearce’s Central Market store and the defendant would then pay it into his bank account.
After this, the prosecution says, Mr Pearce would use the money to buy gold bullion from dealers based in the Hatton Garden area of London.
Advocate Maletroit alleges that the bullion would then be collected in London – sometimes by members of the supposed criminal gang – before the metals were sold for cash.
He alleges that the cash would then be able to be used to buy drugs or contribute to the ongoing operation of the gang.
It is the prosecution’s case that the purchases of gold bullion – one reaching £16,000 – dated back as early as 2016 and coincided with ‘massive’ increases in the cash deposits that Pearce was taking and his turnover.
The inferior number trial – which is heard by two Jurats rather than a jury – continues.