Jan 17 2013 by Tom Duffy, Skelmersdale Advertiser
Skelmersdale man James Don languishes in French jail after drugs bust
A SKELMERSDALE man is being held in jail in France after being arrested on board a yacht laden with Moroccan cannabis.
James ‘Jimbo’ Don, 24, has spent 15 months incarcerated in a Marseille prison after 1.2 tonnes of cannabis was discovered inside a yacht by French customs officials, it has emerged.
It is estimated the drugs haul is worth around 6m euros.
The Advertiser understands that Don has not been charged and remains in prison while the French authorities complete their investigations.
Don’s Marseille bound yacht the Tomahawk attracted the attention of the French authorities before it docked in the French port city on the night of September 27 2011.
The yacht, which flew the Union Jack, was ushered toward dry land by customs and then in to Port Camargue.
The vessel was boarded by customs officers who reported the discovery of 40 suitcases of Moroccan cannabis.
Don and a second man were both arrested.
The Advertiser understands the Tomahawk set sail from Spain for Morocco before travelling on to France.
The north African country is is a major source of cannabis resin along with Afghanistan.
Don is believed to be languishing in Baumattes prison, which has been dubbed Europe’s worst.
A report released last year told how rats and cockroaches had infested parts of the prison, inmates’ food was left on the floor by the cells and prisoners had been forced to drink toilet water.
Campaigners said inmates are being detained in “unlawful conditions”.
Marseille, which is one of France’s poorest cities, has an historic association with drug smuggling, organised crime and corruption.
Last year a war between rival drug gangs claimed 20 lives.
Many of the drug dealers are now armed with automatic weapons such as Kalashnikov rifles which have flooded into the city from the Balkans after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
The city has a large north African community and much of the drug related violence has taken place in the poorer estates in the north of the city.
The Foreign Office said it was aware of Mr Don’s arrest.
A spokesman said: “We are aware of the detention of a British national in Marseille, France, and we are providing consulate assistance."
Don is now subject to France’s inquisitorial justice system.
An individual suspected of a serious offence such as drug trafficking can be placed on remand for up to two years. An examining magistrate will investigate the case and collect evidence which may be used to prosecute him.