Letchworth businessman involved in £2.25m cocaine haul jailed

The cocaine was an estimated street value of £2.25m

The cocaine was an estimated street value of £2.25m - Credit: Archant

AN organised gang linked to a haul of cocaine with an estimated street value of £2.25 million has been jailed for more than 80 years.

The 17-strong group of 15 men and two women – including a Letchworth GC businessman – were apprehended by detectives from the Met Police’s Central Task Force after substantial quantities of the Class A drug were intercepted at addresses across London.

The 17 were convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine and money laundering offences at Isleworth Crown Court, where the last defendant appeared for sentencing on Monday.

The court heard how detectives had discovered the large-scale criminal network after seizing a firearm from Beechwood Avenue in Hayes, Middlesex, in April last year.

The weapon, a 9mm handgun, was discovered at the address of 53-year-old Brian McCarthy, who was sentenced to four years imprisonment for possession of the firearm, a silencer and 11 rounds of ammunition.

His arrest led officers to one of McCarthy’s associates, 51-year-old Gary Ewen, of New Hall Lane in Great Cambourne, Cambridge.

Ewen had been using his haulage business, Gary Ewen Haulers, with lorries stored at Aztec Logistics in Letchworth GC, to ship cocaine into the UK from the continent.

Most Read

He was eventually charged and sentenced to eight years imprisonment for conspiracy to supply controlled drugs.

Ewen had been concealing the drugs within his lorries before passing them to another member of the network, who had been selling the drugs onto street dealers.

In total, officers recovered 45 kilogrammes of cocaine and £150,000 in cash.

Each arrest connected to the police operation, which ran from January to December last year, led officers to an additional member of the gang, and covert officers witnessed a number of large-scale drug deals taking place.

During one transaction, a gang member was seen handing over a holdall containing £93,940 to an associate in exchange for cocaine.

Another man was apprehended with 62.4 grams of cocaine hidden in his underpants, along with £2,000 in cash and a Rolex watch concealed in a bag.

A further member was spotted by covert officers moving blocks of cocaine in the boot of his Audi sports car. When the vehicle was stopped a search revealed 993 grams of cocaine with a street value of £360,000.

Just six days later another gang member was stopped transporting boxes of the drug to a new location.

Detective Inspector Chris Heerey, of the Central Task Force East, said: “This was a highly organised gang working to import large amounts of relatively pure cocaine before moving it to various storage locations.

“Once prepared and cut for street usage it would be handed over to the smaller scale drug dealers to sell on. Once the main gang members were intercepted my team was able to locate the rest of the group as they tried to move the drugs to alternative locations.

“They fell like dominoes from the main cocaine importers at the top end right down to the street drug dealers.”