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Unlucky for some: 13 men jailed for 91 years over three-county Class A drugs supply

Thirteen men convicted of the wholesale supply of Class A drugs across Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Devon are starting prison terms totalling 91 years.

In 2021, officers from EMSOU's Regional Organised Crime Unit began investigating an organised crime gang with the gang leader using his business, Bar Café Milano in Wellingborough Road, Northampton, as a front.

From it, he was overseeing the sale of large volumes of cocaine to contacts in Barnstaple in Devon, as well as directly to users across Northamptonshire, with the help of his trusted associate.

Gang members were arranging multiple trips to Milton Keynes, where quantities of cocaine would be brought for onward sale. Simultaneously, under the leaders guidance, members of the gang were also making repeated trips to Barnstaple in Devon, where consignments of cocaine were sold to ‘downstream’ customers.

Gang members were identified making at least 14 trips to the South West between April 2021 and March 10, 2022, when a police-stop check on the A361 in Devon saw gang members arrested and found to be in possession of around 250g of cocaine.

Undeterred, the group continued to make at least four more trips to Devon – including one made just two days afterwards, thought to be a replacement for the lost consignment.

Arrest of one gang member enabled police to unravel the gang’s street-level dealing in Northampton, with phone evidence showing he had been running two drug lines which were then taken over by other members who each played a part in delivering wraps of cocaine direct to users.

With the net now pulled tight around the gang members and their wholesale customers, planned enforcement across the three counties during July, August and September 2022 saw all the conspirators arrested.

Search warrants resulted in further seizures of cocaine and cannabis, along with a total of more than £110,000 in criminally obtained cash.

When the gang leader was arrested at his Abington home, a search revealed several phones linked to his activities, and £26,000 was also found in the basement of Bar Café Milano.

A search of an address revealed a hydraulic press for the wholesale preparation of cocaine, and an illegal CS spray branded ‘Armerican Style Nato Super Paralisant’.

Other searches uncovered designer watches including Rolex, Brietling, Versace and Tag Heur, and multiple phones.

Each of the men went on to be charged with conspiracy to supply offences – while some pleaded guilty, others went to trial, with all eventually convicted.

At hearings at Northampton Crown Court from late August to October this year, the 13 have been sentenced to a collective total of 91 years in prison.

Senior investigating officer Detective Sergeant Chris Sewell said: “This great result comes down to the painstaking work carried out at EMSOU in order to dismantle a significant drug supply operation stretching across Northamptonshire and beyond.

“When we began our investigation we never dreamed the net would stretch as far as Devon, or involve the quantities of drugs we found evidence of.

“Tackling drug harm is a matter of priority for Northamptonshire Police and I am really pleased our regional team has been able to bring down this significant criminal network and start proceedings to strip its members of their ill-gotten profits as they begin significant prison sentences."

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