A MAN is one of a gang of 13 who have been jailed for a total of 90 years for his part in a large scale cocaine importing operation.
Mara Said, a Somali asylum seeker from Fife Court, Tattenhoe, was believed to be the main organiser of the operation. He was sentenced in July to 12 years in prison.
Thames Valley Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) carried out a proactive investigation – Operation Stage – in June 2011.
The investigation found he worked with other gang members in Leicester, recruiting mainly Eastern Europeans to travel to Brazil via Portugal.
Said and others transferred money via Western Union to Brazil to buy the drugs. The couriers would travel to Brazil, swallow a quantity of cocaine and fly to Portugal. There the couriers would stay in the same hotel as other gang members.
Members of the crime group would then pass the drugs to other couriers who would swallow the packages before travelling to the UK. The investigation identified four importations where drugs were intercepted by the UK Border Agency, after intelligence was supplied by SOCU.
The investigation was able to prove a further eight importations by way of inference, from Brazil, Spain, Tanzania and the Dominican Republic. The final phase of the operation concluded on Thursday at Aylesbury Crown Court when the last remaining defendants were unanimously found guilty following a 10-day trial of conspiracy to import Class A drugs.
In sentencing, Judge Johannah Cutts said that drugs were responsible for causing the misery of addiction among members of our communities.
Detective Superintendent David Poole said: “These sentences send out a clear message to those who are involved or may be tempted to become involved in importing drugs into the UK.
“Thames Valley Police will work relentlessly with international law enforcement, partners and neighbourhood teams to ensure those individuals causing most harm to communities are identified and brought to justice.”
Judge Simon Davis, who sentenced the first six defendants in July at Reading Crown Court, commended the investigation by SOCU making special mention of work carried out by Detective Inspector Mark Wheatman, Detective Sergeant Adrian Claridge and Detective Constable Daron Jones.