Major drugs gang sentenced to 78 years’ imprisonment
Main article content
Detectives have successfully dismantled a major drugs gang, who have been sentenced to 78 years’ imprisonment.
15 defendants have so far been convicted of their involvement in the mass distribution and supply of Class A and B substances in the Worthing area between March 2020 and June 2021.
During this time, officers identified two local Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) who were purchasing large quantities of cocaine and cannabis from other OCGs in London, Luton and elsewhere, and selling them on for profit locally.
Through painstaking investigations and working with partners, police were able to identify a number of suspects.
Among them was Ergest Tarja, who used an EncroChat phone to send and receive encrypted calls and messages in a bid to cover his tracks. But experts at the French Police were able to uncover the messages which showed his involvement in the distribution of multiple kilograms of cocaine, such as this image captured from his phone:
A number of warrants and stop checks were executed across the county, leading to the seizure of around six kilograms of cocaine and cannabis with a wholesale value of £201,000 to 240,000 and street value of £480,000 to £600,000, 868 grams of cannabis and around £157,795 cash. Multiple arrests were also made.
The following nine people all admitted the offences they were charged with, and were sentenced at Brighton Crown Court on Thursday 11 January:
Jamie Richardson, 47, of Shetland Court, Worthing, was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for for conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Ergest Tarja, 31, of no fixed address, was sentenced to a further 10 years and six months’ imprisonment for conspiracy to supply cocaine and being concerned in the supply of cocaine (using the EncroChat phone).
Daniel Bashvogli, 40, of Crescent Road, Worthing, was sentenced to six years and three months’ imprisonment for conspiracy to supply cocaine, being concerned in the supply of cannabis and acquiring or possessing criminal property.
Daron Wood, 55, of Heene Road, Worthing, was sentenced to four years and six months’ imprisonment for conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Luke Stears, 34, of Canon Place, Southampton, Hampshire, was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Zac Danks, 26, of Harbolets Road, West Chiltington, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Daniel Taylor, 46, of Pavilion Close, Thakeham, was sentenced to three years and nine months’ imprisonment for conspiracy to supply cocaine, and possession with intent to supply cocaine and cannabis.
Carmine Melisi, 60, of no fixed address, was sentenced to three years and one month imprisonment for conspiracy to supply cocaine, acquiring or possessing criminal property and possession of an offensive weapon in public.
Warren Bines, 43, of De Paul Way, Brentwood, Essex, was sentenced to two years and seven months’ imprisonment. for conspiracy to supply cocaine and acquiring or possessing criminal property.
They were all given credit for their early guilty pleas.
Oliver Mazirel, 35, of Ardingly Drive, Goring, was found guilty by jury and sentenced to a further 14 years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to supply cocaine, being concerned in the supply of cannabis, possession with intent to supply cannabis and acquiring or possessing criminal property. While on court bail for the conspiracy, he was arrested by the West Community Investigations Team having been found in possession of 10kg of cannabis, which contributed to his sentence.
Steven Bennett, 43, of South Street, Lancing, was found guilty by jury and sentenced to two years and three months’ imprisonment for conspiracy to supply cocaine.
On Wednesday 17 January, Dean Mazirel, 39, of South Street, Tarring, was sentenced to four years and three months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Earlier in the operation Ilirian Allajbeu, 40, of St Marys Drive, East Preston, was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment.
And Aleksis Branko, 42, of West Parade, Worthing, was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment.
The fifteenth defendant, Terrence White, 33, of Mill Road, Worthing, has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and is due to be sentenced on 21 March.
So far, the offenders have been sentenced to a total of 78 years’ imprisonment.
Detective Constable Jon Freeman, of the Serious Organised Crime Unit, said: “We will continue to target individuals involved in the production, distribution and supply of illegal drugs in Sussex, and this often leads to significant sentences. Typically, individuals involved in street supply are replaced in their OCG while those above them evade detection, enabling illegal activities to continue until we are able to secure the evidence for further convictions.
“On this occasion, however, we have completely dismantled an Organised Crime Group from the top to the bottom of the chain, which includes a number of people entrenched in the Worthing community for a number of years.
“Illegal drugs cause misery to those that become addicted to them and to their families, friends and the wider communities. These defendants were not simply dealing drugs to feed their own addiction, they had made the decision to become involved in the supply of large quantities of harmful drugs to make money for themselves at the expense of others.
“This is a massive result for Sussex Police and all the teams involved, including the Serious Organised Crime Unit, the Community Investigations Team, the Economic Crime Unit, the Specialist Enforcement Unit, the Tactical Enforcement Unit, the Roads Policing Unit, the Tactical Firearms Unit and numerous Neighbourhood Policing Teams.”