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British forwarder behind bars in Texas

[ February 27, 2012   //   ]

Retired freight forwarder February is behind the razor wire of Otero County Prison in the heat of the Texas desert after finally being extradited to the US to face charges of attempting to illegally export batteries for Iranian missiles.

Mr Tappin, a former director of Orpington-based Brooklands Freight Services, has been accused of attempting to export batteries for Hawk air defence missiles, although he argued that he was the victim of entrapment by US government agents. In December 2005, he arranged a shipment of batteries from the US to the Netherlands but a US agent turned out to be a front for customs agents.

He will be held in Otero until his bail application is heard, expected on Wednesday. However, according to local legal sources, he faces an ‘uphill task’ persuading the judge to free him

Despite its forbidding appearance, the 1,300-inmate Otero prison is considered relatively benign. Expectations had been that 64-year-old Mr Tappin would be held at El Paso, which has a reputation for a savage regime, riots and violent gang culture, according to a report in the Mail Online.

Mr Tappin was accompanied by US Marshalls throughout the United Airlines flight on 24 February from Heathrow to Houston, that would no doubt in happier days have carried his cargo, He and his escorts transferred to a connecting flight to El Paso.

Mr Tappin told the Mail Online: “Things happen in business. You have problems, you resolve them. We suffered from missing money, missing cargo and missing executives but at no point did I think it would end in this scenario. With the extradition law as it stands the American authorities can whisk you over the Atlantic with no prima facie evidence. You have to prove your innocence, they don’t have to prove your guilt.

“I am angry with our government for allowing it to happen”