Operation WATCH

Drug gang jailed for total of 46 years

Seven men have been sentenced to nearly 50 years in prison for their roles in an organised crime group that were involved in the supply of cocaine in Norfolk.

The seven were sentenced at Norwich Crown Court today (Tuesday 16 April) for their part in an operation that involved 2.1 kilogrammes of cocaine with a street value of around £320,000.

Specialist investigative officers from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) undertook covert activity following intelligence that the group, predominantly comprising of Albanian and Kosovan males, were believed to be responsible for the distribution of cocaine between October 2011 and August 2012.

The cocaine was transported to Norfolk to premises controlled by the defendants. The drug was then mixed with cutting agents such as benzocaine and levamisole, before being pressed in blocks to be sold on to maximize the profit.

Among the police activity that was carried out included:

In July last year a Range Rover was stopped and the occupant found to be in possession of 505 grammes of cocaine. As a consequence of this a warrant was executed at an address in Hillmead in Norwich with a further 454 grammes of cocaine recovered, along with 2.4 kilogrammes of benzocaine. Also recovered were scales, drugs and a knife found to contain traces of the drugs.

On 1 August last year, one of the defendants, was stopped in a VW Passat vehicle by a police check at a car park on Aylsham Road in Norwich. A search of the vehicle found around 124 grammes of cocaine concealed beneath the sunglasses holder.

On 7 August last year a warrant was executed at St James Close in Norwich with around 59 grammes of cocaine and 676 grammes of benzocaine being recovered, along with other drug parapharnailia such as sieves, bowls and a coffee grinder used in the mixing of cocaine.

In September last year another operation recovered one kilogramme of 94% pure cocaine from an industrial unit at Brandiston near Reepham that was linked to one of the defendants.

Illr Topalli, aged 30, from Latimer Road in Norwich was charged in July last year. He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to conspiracy to supply cocaine and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Mohammed Sedike, aged 31, from Hillmead in Norwich was charged in July last year. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and was sentenced to six years in prison.

Eraldo Eminaj, aged 26, from Elm Grove, Sutton in Surrey was charged in August last year. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and was sentenced to five years six months in prison

Elgert Tollja, aged 29, from Gleneagle Road in London was charged in October last year. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Edmund Alvora, aged 33, from St James Close in Norwich was charged in August last year. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and was sentenced to three years four months.

Florjan Balla, aged 31, from Mogden Lane in Isleworth in Middlesex was charged in August 2012. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

David Armes, aged 22, of no fixed abode was charged in August 2012. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and was sentenced to six years in prison.

Detective Superintendent Mark Lay from ERSOU said: “ This was a complex investigation that required carefully planning and execution in terms of the covert activities we conducted to secure the necessary evidence and make the arrests. The guilty pleas that all seven defendants submitted in earlier hearings demonstrates the overwhelming weight of evidence that they all faced.

“The team worked long days and nights in order to bring these men to justice and reduce the harm caused to our communities. There is no doubt this operation is a major success

Convicted

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