Four men from Essex jailed as police smash £14m cocaine and MDMA smuggling operation
Four men have been jailed after police smashed a £14m drugs ring smuggling cocaine and MDMA into the country.
The gang was uncovered when Northamptonshire police officers stopped an Audi Q7 on the M1 travelling toward London on April 23 last year.
A search of the car revealed 85kgs of cocaine hydrochloride.
Police arrested John Taylor, 29, of Laindon in Essex, along with a woman in the car.
The following month, specialist officers from the Metropolitan Police witnessed two of Taylor's associates, Harry Brydges and Harry Simmons, meeting up.
Brydges passed Simmons £9,000 in cash which Simmons took to Gravesend in Kent where he met lorry driver Milos Stevanovic, a Bosnian national.
Simmons and Stevanovic were arrested as they unloaded 37kgs of cocaine hydrochloride and 35 kilograms of MDMA crystals, which has just entered the UK, in the lorry driven by Stevanovic.
When officers went to Brydges' home in Basildon to arrest him, he jumped from a first floor window in a bid to escape but was detained.
The four have been sentenced to prison terms between 11 years and 18 years after having previously pleaded guilty at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
Harry Brydges, 30, of Bessemer Close, Basildon, Essex was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to import and conspiracy to supply Class A controlled drugs;
Harry Simmons, 31, of Parkside in Basildon was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to import Class A controlled drugs;
John Taylor, 29, of Lobelia Mews, Laindon in Essex was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for conspiracy to supply Class A controlled drug;
Milos Stevanovic, 27 of no fixed address was sentenced to 11 years and eight months imprisonment for conspiracy to import Class A controlled drugs.
Det Supt Rich Tompkins from Northamptonshire Police said: "I’m really pleased with the results of this joint operation with our Met colleagues, and the successful conviction of these individuals.
“It shows that by forces working together we can tackle the scourge of drug dealers who use our road networks to transport and distribute illegal, harmful drugs into our towns and cities.
“I hope it sends a message to others concerned with this type of organised crime. We will proactively pursue you and when caught you will face a significant prison sentence and have your assets seized.”
Det Insp Dave Williams of the Met's Specialist Crime Command said: “This case clearly highlights the positive outcomes that can be achieved through joint working.
“Working in partnership with our policing colleagues in Northamptonshire we have dismantled a network that used UK motorways to distribute drugs around the country.
“Despite the pandemic, there was a clear motivation to flood the UK with significant amounts of harmful Class A drugs that fuel violence, increase the chances of vulnerable youngsters being exploited into county lines, and ultimately affects the quality of life for our communities.
“We remain committed to tackling the importation and sale of illegal drugs and the sentences handed down clearly demonstrate the seriousness of these crimes.”