Two men who posed as key workers in order to transport and sell £4-million worth of cocaine during lockdown have been jailed.
One was responsible for the management and distribution of the drugs from a small flat in Bulwell, Nottinghamshire, the other was recruited to provide cover with his flat-bed works truck when Coronavirus restrictions threatened to strangle the operation.
Between March and June 2020 our team established that the pair had supplied cocaine with a street value of more than £4.5million to organised criminal gangs in Nottinghamshire, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.
One day in May 2020 they were caught on camera wearing distinctive high-visibility trousers as they drove in the van containing several sets of temporary traffic lights.
They returned to the flat with a box and bag containing 20 kilograms of cocaine which were later sold on.
A subsequent search of the flat revealed more drugs and more than £90,000 in cash, hidden under the floorboards. An encrypted ‘EncroChat’ mobile phone, used by criminals before it was taken down in June of that year, was also found.
Both men admitted to charges of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, conspiracy to import Class A drugs and conspiracy to conceal and convert criminal property. They were jailed for 13 years, two month and 10 years, nine months respectively.
Detective Inspector Mark Adas said: “It goes without saying that most drug dealers prefer to operate in the shadows – keeping a low profile doing all they can to avoid drawing attention to themselves.
“However, these two men adopted the very bold approach of operating in plain sight and driving around openly in a very distinctive vehicle.
“It was clear that they saw this approach as a way to blend-in during lockdown, when far fewer cars were on the road and tight restrictions were placed on individuals’ freedoms.
“As most people remained at home and thousands of others lost their lives, these men used the pandemic as an opportunity to commit very serious criminal acts.
“I am pleased that they have now been brought to justice and that a very significant quantity of drugs have been taken off the streets.”