A highly organised Class A drug supply network in Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge has been disrupted and nine men jailed following a proactive police investigation.
An investigation was launched by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate after it was discovered an Albanian crime gang based in Surrey Quays, London was using one specific mobile phone to organise the supply of cocaine in west Kent between May and October, 2018.
Bags of cocaine
Drug users ordered £40 bags of cocaine by calling the phone in London at any time of the day confirming their
postcode. Dealers living in rented accommodation in Tunbridge Wells were then called by the organisers and sent to the customer’s location.
These dealers sent text messages back to the phone in London confirming their arrival and the amount of drugs supplied.
Investigators gathered evidence that proved the main organiser of the supply network was Nelson Aliaj. He was closely assisted by Ervis Dervishi, Izmir Basha and Alfred Gashi.
Enquiries identified that Aliaj, Dervishi and Gashi had topped up the London-based phone with credit using vouchers they had bought at shops in Tunbridge Wells.
Other members of the gang purchasing credit vouchers for this phone were identified as Marius Kuci, Rigels Hadushaj and Fatos Metalia.
Investigators were able to prove that Dervishi supplied cocaine in Tunbridge Wells on 14, 15 and 28 June
was arrested on 20 July in Tonbridge in possession of 14 deals of cocaine, two mobile phones and more than £600.
Arsid Mataj was also shown to have supplied cocaine in Tunbridge Wells on 18 July, and officers arrested him on 23 July with four deals of cocaine and more than £1,200.
On 22 September, Gashi was arrested when he was stopped in a car in Southborough and found with two deals of cocaine, a mobile phone and £600.
Further arrests were made on 23 September
when Hadishaj and Arlind Palushi
were located in a car parked in
Tunbridge Wells. On searching the vehicle, the officers seized a mobile phone, pepper spray canisters, 60 deals of cocaine and more than £8,000.
Investigators also proved that Kuci supplied cocaine for the crime gang on 11 October and 12 October, and Xhensil Vucaj dealt cocaine on 19 October.
Vucaj was arrested on 19 October in possession of a mobile phone and more than £1,000. On the same day a search warrant was executed at a flat in Croft Street, Deptford where Izmir Basha was arrested with the main mobile phone.
Investigators proved that Aliaj had been using the address in Deptford and he was arrested in Hull on 26 November.
On 19 December, Gashi, Metalia and Kuci were tracked down and arrested at an address in Southampton
where eight bags of cocaine and more than £8,000 was seized.
Mataj was also arrested in Plumstead, London on 12 April 2019.
Organised crime gang
Analysis of text messages on the seized mobile phones proved all those arrested were part of the same organised crime gang dealing Class A drugs in Kent, and they were all charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Devishi pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court on 22 November 2018. Guilty pleas were entered at Canterbury Crown Court by Gashi on 25 April 2019, Kuci on 26 April, Aliaj on 8 May and Mataj on 13 May.
Basha, Metalia, Hadushaj, Palushi and Vicaj pleaded not guilty at Canterbury Crown Court and were found guilty after a 27-day trial.
At Canterbury Crown Court on 11 June 2019 the following prison sentences were imposed:
- Aliaj, 28, of no fixed address was jailed for 15 years.
- Hadushaj 20, of Glashier Street, Deptford, London was jailed for seven years.
- Basha 24, of Croft Street, Deptford, London was jailed for seven years.
- Dervishi, 21, of no fixed address was jailed for six years and nine months.
- Palushi 19, of no fixed address was jailed for six years and six months.
- Gashi 19, of Lodge Road, Southampton, Hampshire was jailed for six years and three months.
- Metalia 23, of no fixed address was jailed for four years.
- Kuci 25, of Lodge Road, Southampton, Hampshire was jailed for four years.
- Mataj 24, of no fixed address was jailed for three years and six months.
- Vucaj 18, of Frensham Drive, Croydon, Surrey received a two year suspended prison sentence.
Investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Mark Froome said:
‘This sophisticated drug supply network took steps to avoid arrest by keeping the main mobile phone is London and providing a second phone for the local dealers Kent.
‘It is estimated the gang’s drug dealing would have made more than £4,000,000 per year from around 50 kilograms of cocaine, and photographs on their phones showed large quantities of cash in their possession.
‘They were finally brought to justice through a meticulous investigation supported by proactive arrests by patrols.
‘The sentences imposed should send a strong message to anyone seeking to supply Class A drugs in Kent that they will be identified, arrested and are likely to spend a significant time in jail.’