Operation ZINC

Cocaine and Cannabis Investigation

Members of an organised crime group who conspired to import two tonnes of cannabis and multiple kilos of cocaine into the UK have been jailed for a total of 83 years and four months.

David Leitz, 63, and Paul Taylor, 64, headed up the conspiracy arranging for large quantities of cannabis to be imported into the region before Taylor then arranged for the commodity to be delivered onto a network of suppliers and dealers in the UK.

Leitz, who was based in Slovenia had connections in South America, South Africa and Portugal, sourced the drugs and arranged their importation to the UK with his criminal associate Taylor, of Dunstall Road, Barton-le-Clay, Bedfordshire.

They were both jailed today (Friday) at Luton Crown Court after an 18-month operation by Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).

Erik Strack van Schijndel, from Amsterdam, was in charge of arranging transport of the cannabis while David Cumberbatch, 55, from Hornsey, London, was a courier for the pair and was stopped on a ‘drug run’ on the M25 with 105kg of cannabis in his vehicle – with a potential street value of £600,000.

The group worked with Colin McNamara, 50, of Hillfield Avenue, Hornsey, who was the link to a number of London-based dealers including Luigi Salvoni, 66, of Uplands Road, Hornsey, and Gavin Leon, 49, of Nightingale Lane, Hornsey.

Barry Gadson, 33, of Mountbatten Gardens, Beckenham, and Douglas Dinsmore, 51, of Beaconsfield Road, Enfield, were also couriers for the gang.

Leitz, Taylor, Starck van Schijndel , McNamara, Salvoni, Leon, Cumberbatch and Gadson all admitted conspiracy to import class B drugs. Dinsmore denied the charge but was convicted following a trial.

The court heard Leitz and Taylor were also involved in a plot to bring multiple kilos of cocaine into the UK. However ERSOU conducted disruption enforcement action and arrested the members of the organised crime group before the drugs could be sourced and imported.

Leitz, McNamara, Rafaelle Contato, 34, of Prayle Grove, London, and Paul Jordan, 49, of Leeside, Barnet, were all convicted of conspiracy to import class A drugs following a trial.

Taylor was deemed unfit to stand trial for the cocaine conspiracy. A fifth man was cleared after trial.

In total drugs with a street value of up to £792,000 and £80,660 in cash was seized during the investigation. A small ‘sample’ of cocaine worth £500 was also seized.

Leitz and Jordan were both jailed for 18 years, Contato was sentenced to 16 years while McNamara was given a 12-year term.

Strack van Schijndel was jailed for five-and-a-half years, Taylor received four-and-a-half years, Salvoni and Gadson were each sentenced to two-and-a-half years while Cumberbatch and Leon were each jailed for 26 months.

Dinsmore was given a 12-month suspended sentence.

T/Detective Chief Inspector Gary Atkinson who headed up the investigation said: “This was a lengthy investigation into the managers and facilitators of an international crime group.

"ERSOU is committed to investigating organised crime which impacts across the eastern region to protect our communities from these types of offences. The harmful effects of this criminal activity are severe.

"These are dangerous substances which can damage the health of those who use them and also the communities in which they are supplied. I hope the sentences passed by the court today serve as a warning to those bringing drugs into our region – it will not be tolerated and we will do all we can to bring offenders before the courts."

Convicted

David Leitz

David Leitz

18 years

Paul Jordan

Paul Jordan

18 years

Rafaelle Contato

Rafaelle Contato

16 years

Colin McNamara

Colin McNamara

12 years

Erik Strack van Schijndel

Erik Strack van Schijndel

5 years 6 months

Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor

4 years 6 months

Luigi Salvoni

Luigi Salvoni

2 years 6 months

Barry Gadson

Barry Gadson

2 years 6 months

David Cumberbatch

David Cumberbatch

2 years 2 months

Gavin Leon

Gavin Leon

2 years 2 months

Operations