Twenty-two members of a gang, who ploughed more than £20 million-worth of high purity illegal drugs around the country over the course of 12 months, have been jailed for more than 200 years.
Sold on the street, the drugs could have made up to £60 million.
Major enforcement across eight counties in two days in February 2019 brought the illicit
operation – which was being coordinated out of Leicestershire, with main stash sites and supply routes in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and the West Midlands — to an abrupt end.
At Leicester Crown Court this week (Monday 6 to Friday 10 September 2021), 11 people
were sentenced for their involvement. They follow 11 others, who were sentenced
previously, but can only be reported on now following the lifting of restrictions.
In 2017, an investigation by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) was joining the dots on a massive drugs plot to move various controlled substances around the region and beyond.
In October 2017, 111kg of amphetamine seized during a raid by Nottinghamshire Police at a house in Radford revealed links to this operation. Some of the illicit substances were found in a household freezer.
Later that month, 20kg of cannabis was also seized from boxes in a car in Derby, leading to 189kg of rare and potent anabolic steroid hexadrone in heat-sealed bags stuffed in six suitcases at a storage unit in the city.
Two months later, 35kg of cocaine – some of which had been branded with ‘K Crown’
stamps – was seized from a van at Sandbach Services, north of Stoke-on-Trent. More
cocaine was recovered from a house in Willenhall in Wolverhampton. At the same site 100kg of powerful sedative ketamine, kept in boxes marked as shoes, was recovered.
The investigation identified that the organised crime group handled more than a tonne of Class A and B drugs (500kg of cocaine, and 500kg of amphetamines, cannabis, hexadrone and ketamine) throughout 2017.
The importation and onward distribution of the drugs was arranged by a man out of Leicester and delivered to key ‘clients’ in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, to prepare and distribute large quantities of illicit substances across the country.
The gang also had links into a storage site in Slough and the EMSOU team found further
reach into other towns and cities across the country, including Leeds, London,
Middlesbrough and March in, as well as up to Edinburgh.
Top sentences for those involved included 29 years, 23 years, 22 years, six months, and 20 years.
Detective Inspector Harry Rai, who was the Senior Investigating Officer, said: “This gang
had a profitable enterprise going, bringing a tonne of dangerous drugs into the UK. They
showed no care for the incredible damage this sort of criminality causes, rather used it to line their own pockets – on the face of it, benefitting by tens of millions of pounds – and bolster their reputation.
“This investigation has been a massive undertaking for EMSOU, supported by the National Crime Agency and Border Force, not just in terms of the scale of resources involved, but also in that we were able to take out the whole illicit operation – from the ones at the top pulling the strings to bring the drugs into the country, to those on the streets supplying the final product, and everything in between.
“I’d like to sincerely thank all those at EMSOU who have contributed a sustained effort into this lengthy investigation, as well as those in the forces who supported us in our enquiries and during the arrest phase.
“This investigation has been far-reaching not only with the seizure of a massive amount of controlled drugs destined for all corners of the country, but also in that it has attracted significant sentences for those responsible. All this goes a long way to preventing further damage to our communities.
“The war against drugs may be long-fought, but this is another battle won by law
enforcement in our quest to keep harmful substances, and the violence they perpetuate, off our streets.”
Efforts to identify and seize money or other assets gained from the crimes are underway
under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.