A man from Halstead has been jailed for nine years for his involvement in a drugs smuggling gang that saw drugs transported from Spain hidden in lorries.
Eight members of a drugs gang who were caught with cocaine and cannabis worth a combined £5.2m have been jailed for a total of 68 years and seven months.
The Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) carried out a large scale investigation into the shipment and distribution of the drugs from Essex across the eastern region in 2014.
In total ERSOU recovered 3.69 tonnes of cannabis resin worth £4.6m on a furniture lorry, along with two seizures of cocaine with an estimated street value of £600,000.
Eight of the 11 men convicted of roles within the organised gang were sentenced this week.
Officers initially stopped a taxi in Braintree, Essex, on September 30, 2014 and discovered 1kg of cocaine with a purity of 75 per cent in a laptop bag. Darren Mullarkey, 26, was the sole passenger in the vehicle and was arrested.
Detectives were able to link Mullarkey, of Earlsferry Way, North London, to Luke Jewitt, 30, of The Oak, Chapel Hill, Braintree, Essex, Louis Dibra, 32, of Juniper Close, Halstead, Essex, and Robert Strachan, 38, of Parkhurst Road, North London.
Then on October 10 2014, 3.69 tonnes of cannabis resin was seized from the trailer of a lorry at Temple Wood Industrial Estate in Essex. It had travelled from Malaga, Spain, and the drugs were found concealed in 187 boxes hidden behind low-quality furniture.
A further five men were arrested.
Then, on November 20, 2014, Patrick Carroll, 31, of Templar Road, Braintree, Essex, and Barry Murphy, 57, of Perryfields, Braintree, Essex, were arrested outside The Kicking Dickey pub in Dunmow. Officers discovered 2kg of cocaine and a total of £44,000 in cash.
Aldridge, Jewitt, Dibra, Chambers, Hastie, Muliu, Strachan and Mallarkey were sentenced to a total of 68 years and seven months at St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday, July 12.
Louis Dibra , 32, of Juniper Close, Halstead, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Detective Sergeant Darren Guess from ERSOU said: “This was a sophisticated drugs importation and distribution network which had the potential to flood the eastern region with cocaine and cannabis.
“This case once again shows the determination ERSOU has in dismantling organised crime groups who spread fear and misery through our communities.
“The sentences also show how serious the courts take such offending and should serve as a stark warning to anyone involved in such criminality.”