Nine men - including two from Bedford and Clophill - have been sentenced to a total of 88 years jail following a major operation to tackle supply of Class A drugs with a street value of over £5million.
The sentencing on Friday, December 12 at at Luton Crown Court followed an investigation across the East and South region of England and resulted in cocaine with a street value of over £5million being seized.
Sean Martin, 32, of Riverfield Drive, Bedford, has been given six years and Andrew Dawson, 45, of Kiln Lane, Clophill, was sentenced to five years four months in prison.
The nine defendants were arrested during the period of May to October 2013 following a 12-month operation by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), which resulted in the complete disruption of an Organised Crime Group.
The gang also included seven men from Kent, Dorset, and Ireland.
Martin and Dawson both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs (Cocaine) at an earlier hearing.
Three other men had entered not guilty pleas but were subsequently found guilty of Conspiracy to Supply Class A (Cocaine) following a trial at Luton Crown Court during September this year.
The court heard how during the operation, initial arrests/searches in Bedfordshire resulted in the recovery of a quantity of cocaine together with ‘cutting’(adulteration) agents/equipment from a garage premises in Clophill.
Further subsequent arrests in Kent during July also resulted in the seizure of 7kg of cocaine, ‘cutting agents’ and a Hydraulic ‘drugs Press’ from an a premises, in Broadstairs, identified as being used for the adulteration of Class A drugs. This was followed by the Seizure of 15 Kilos of Cocaine hidden in pallets of catering fruit from a lorry at an industrial estate near Dover, directly after the lorry had entered the UK from France.
A further earlier seizure of 2kg of cocaine in Norfolk was directly linked to the Bedfordshire part of the operation. The combined value of the cocaine directly seized during the operation amounted to an estimated wholesale price of £1million and overall street price of just over £5 million.
Jonathan Mason and Robert Webb, from Kent, were regarded as having played a ‘leading’ and senior role in relation to the importation and distribution of 22kg of cocaine. Mason, also charged with Mortgage Fraud / Money laundering, purported to be a property developer and was notably seen to construct a substantial two storey extension at his own home address which was then furnished with high end spec fittings. Webb claimed to be retired but was largely responsible for arranging the transportation.
Patrick Dyett, from Poole, was also regarded to have played a ‘leading role’ in a conspiracy to supply cocaine across the Region.
Dyett, the owner of the ‘Sandbanks Horse Racing Club’, had been residing in the affluent ‘Sandbanks’ area of Poole, drove a Bentley and purported to be a professional sports gambler.
All of the other men were regarded as having undertaken various other ‘significant’ roles in the conspiracy to supply and distribute the Cocaine.
Paul Nolan, from Dover, was the owner of the Haulage Company in whose lorry the drugs were found, Eamonn Ward, from County Down, was the driver. Gareth Harnett, from Kent, prior to his arrest for this matter, had been arrested in June for an unrelated matter in Scotland whilst in possession of 30kg of Cannabis (Skunk).
A subsequent search of a premises linked to that arrest led to the recovery of a further 120kg of cannabis derivatives.
Sean Martin and Andrew Dawson were involved in the ‘cutting’ and onward distribution from Bedfordshire into East Anglia.
Daren Coomber, from Kent, had also earlier in April this year been found guilty, following a separate trial at Luton Crown Court, in relation to a further related matter of Conspiracy to Supply Cocaine. As part of that operation – another associate - Anthony Ruane was previously sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court to eight years imprisonment for his role, having been arrested for being in possession of 7kg of Cocaine. He entered an earlier Guilty Plea in September 2013.
Other sentences given on Friday were Jonathan Mason, 15 Years; Robert Webb, 13 Years; Patrick Dyett, 8 Years 6 Months; Gareth Harnett, 5 Years 4 Months; Daren Coomber, 14 Years; Paul Nolan, 11 Years; Eamon Ward, 10 years 5 Months.
Detective Inspector Gary Atkinson, from the Eastern Region Specialist Operations Unit, who led the investigation, said: “Cocaine destroys lives and those sentences today operated purely for their own greed and monetary gain with no regard for the law, nor for the lives of those who are vulnerable through their addictions.
“The calculated and planned criminal activities which fuelled their enterprise were, in their eyes, merely business transactions, which had we not intercepted them - would have played a significant contributory factor in destroying more lives.”