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SCOTS HORSE BREEDER HELD IN pounds 1m DRUG BUST; EXCLUSIVE U.S. cops seize 430lb of speed in his horsebox.

Byline: KEVIN HURLEY

A SCOTS racehorse breeder is in an American jail accused of masterminding a pounds 1million drugs ring.

Hugh Stevens, 58, was arrested after police allegedly discovered a massive shipment of speed in one of his horse boxes at the border with Canada.

The 430lb haul is one of the biggest made in the US in recent years.

Stevens, from Glasgow, and his wife Sandra, 47, were arrested last week after a police surveillance operation.

Now the Scot, who was running a restaurant in Buffalo, New York, is in Niagra County Jail awaiting trial.

Mark Peterson, of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, said: "This is the first time we've ever seen a horse used as a mule for moving drugs. People in the horse-racing business have reasons to travel from one city to another, and they have trailers where drugs can be hidden."

Three of Stevens's employees were arrested when the vehicle was stopped in July prompting the police stake-out.

Prosecutors suspect that Stevens, a respected figure in US horse circles, is responsible for smuggling 10 tonnes of methamphetamine, a type of speed, over two years.

All five people arrested deny charges of drug conspiracy. Stevens also denies a charge of managing a continuing criminal enterprise which carries a mandatory 20-year prison term. Officials taped conversations between Stevens and a distributor about how to prevent a man turning informer.

The horse breeder is allegedly clearly heard saying: "He'll die."

The Scot is the only member of his team to have been refused bail.

Friends in the horse-racing world are astonished by his arrest.

"Hughie is one of the nicest guys," said John Cummings, a senior racing figure in upstate New York.

"If you were travelling with a horse and your truck broke down at 3am, you could call Hughie and he's come to get you. That's why all this is so hard to believe."

Stevens's lawyer Thomas Eoannou has argued for his client's release. "Everybody knew this arrest was imminent for a couple of months and certainly nobody got hurt or fled," he said.

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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 10, 2004
Words:350
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