TEN men have been sentenced to a total of over 50 years in prison for their part in a cocaine conspiracy that was worth over a million pounds.
The criminal enterprise, which saw the class A drug transported in wholesale quantities from Leicester to Gloucester, was dismantled by Gloucestershire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit.
Mobile telephone records, surveillance, and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology were among the techniques used by officers to crack the case in what was a major investigation between January and July 2013.
Officers pounced on Rodney Brissett, the man described by the prosecution as the ‘prominent Gloucester figure’ in the syndicate, when he cycled to Calton Road to take personal delivery of a kilogram of the drug, which had a purity of 73%.
The potential street value of the seized drugs was £180,000 but it was just one run of many into the city by the crime group.
Later in the operation officers recovered around 30 kilograms of benzocaine, a cutting agent used with cocaine.
If the gang had gone on to use all the benzocaine to bulk out high purity cocaine, they could have sold the drugs for over a million pounds on the streets.
Brissett received an 8-and-a-half-year sentence at Bristol Crown Court today (Friday May 1) while the man who ran the Leicester side of the group's activities, Skender Gashi, received 7 and a half years.
Mohammed Tagari, who was sentenced to 13 years, was the link between Brissett and Gashi, acting as a facilitator between the two.
Simon Cicolloni (sentenced to 4 years 6 months) acted as courier for the Leicester end, often making return journeys of 200 miles on each drug run and was found with a quarter kilogram of the drug when arrested in Leicester.
Kyle Silk (5 years 6 months), Mark Jones (2 years), Kieran Cox (3 years 3 months) and Richard Hoskins (3 years) were all part of the gang used in the stashing, cutting or mixing of the cocaine.
Mixing bowls and associated paraphernalia was recovered at key addresses linked to the men in Gloucester.
Aaron Warmington (2 years 6 months) admitted collecting benzocaine for the gang while Pellumb Gjermeni, another courier for the group, was previously sentenced to 3 years 4 months at Gloucester Crown Court for his part in supplying Rodney Brissett the kilogram of cocaine.
Judge Longman today commended the police for a "thorough" and "meticulous" investigation.
Detective Inspector Neil Carpenter said: "This was a painstaking investigation that demanded many different methods of police work.
“The strength of our case can be noted in the fact all but one of the defendants pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
“The more we investigated the more we were able to peel back the different layers of this criminal network.
“What we uncovered was a serious crime gang with some very significant players in the drugs trade in Gloucester and beyond, making huge profits off the back of other people's misfortune.
“Brissett, who owned a shop in Eastgate Street in the city was the main player.
“He tried to keep an air of respectability and let others do the dirty work but he seemingly couldn’t resist taking personal delivery of one of the packages.
“We were on hand straight away to intercept him when he did so and recover the drugs.
“When we stopped the van that delivered the package to him we found over £40,000 in banknotes in a shoe box, which gives you a snapshot of the scale of the criminality.
"Brissett immediately tried to give the impression of being a foot soldier for others in the operation but through detailed and dedicated investigative work we have shown that this was just not the case and we have been able to present a more accurate level of offending to the court.
“This successful prosecution will have made a huge dent in the drugs trade here in Gloucestershire and its all thanks to the dedication of my team, who spent months meticulously carrying out their inquiries.
“Several persons are still wanted for questioning in relation and I can reassure people we are determined to find them.
"We hope the sentences send out a very clear message to would be drug dealers looking to step into the void.
“The Force has a good track record of targeting these gangs and if we target you we will catch you and you will go to prison "I can reassure people we will now be going after the money this group made from their activity via a proceeds of crime hearing and are seeking Serious Crime Prevention Orders on key people to restrict offending potential when they are released from prison."
Rodney Joseph Brissett, 27 and of Widden Street in Gloucester – 8 years 6 months
Mark Ian Jones, 28 and of The Rushes, Gloucester – 2 years
Mohammed Tagari, 43 and of Blenheim Road, Gloucester – 13 years
Kyle Ashley Silk, 26 and of Linden Road, Gloucester – 5 years 6 months
Aaron Lloyd Warmington, 27 and of Elmleaze, Gloucester – 2 years 6 months
Kieran Cox, 22 and of Hartland Road, Gloucester – 3 year 3 months
Richard Neil Hoskins, 22 and of Howard Street, Gloucester – 3 years
Skender Gashi, 30 and of Dukes Close, Wigston, Leicester – 7 years 6 months
Simon Cicilloni, 42 and of Boulter Crescent, Wigston, Leicester – 4 years six months
Pellumb Gjermeni, 41 and of no fixed abode – 3 years, 4 months