This morning at Bristol Crown Court, seven men have been sentenced for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs in Swindon.
Details of the offenders are:
- Fatos HAMZARAJ born 08/04/82 – sentenced to 12 years imprisonment
- Gugliemo ROSSI born 16/5/83 - sentenced to 6 years imprisonment
- Paul BOULTON born 11/11/83 - sentenced to 8 years imprisonment
- Michael CROSSLEY born 12/06/84 - sentenced to 4 years imprisonment
- Christopher Peter HEMMING born 24/08/79 - sentenced to 6 years imprisonment
- Paul Matthew BUNNEY born 01/12/79 - sentenced to 20 month imprisonment
- Jack Bowen JONES born 21/07/91 - sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.
In addition to today's sentencing, four other men were convicted and sentenced for other drugs offences in 2011 in connection with this organised crime group.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Steve Kirby said: "In 2011 Wiltshire Police identified that there was an organised crime group (OCG) working in Swindon that was responsible for the large scale distribution of cocaine.
"It was identified as having a hierarchical structure with the head of the group, an Albanian, Fatos Hamsaraj who lived within Swindon, coordinating the distribution network.
"Through surveillance, analytical work and working with other agencies, police believed cocaine was being brought into the country in cars specially adapted to conceal Class A drugs and mixed with other cutting agents such as Benzocaine, at different locations and then distributed throughout Swindon.
"This was a robust police operation which involved working with several partnership agencies including the Border Agency, DVLA, housing associations and Swindon Borough Council’s licensing department.
"Specialist officers have put the total approximate street value of the drugs seized at £250,000 but the some of the cocaine we seized had a purity of 97 per cent – the purist the drug can be, so this figure could be much higher.
"Although the live police investigation spanned 10 months in 2011, it is important to note that some of the offenders were arrested and charged during this period as well as the end of it.
"This is the first time Wiltshire Police has taken out an entire organised crime group – from the street dealers to those at the top. It highlights Wiltshire Police’s dedication to tackling this type of crime which has such a devastating effect on our local communities.
"Tackling organised crime is a force-wide priority and involves officers at all levels working together to tackle it – from specialist drugs officers to members of the Neighbourhood Policing Teams.
"It is also important to note the value of community-based intelligence. We rely on members of the public reporting anything they think is suspicious to police and it can be these tip-offs which alert officers to an organised crime group working in this area.
"We hope that this case acts as a deterrent to anyone involved in or thinking of setting up an organised crime group in Wiltshire."
Superintendent Gavin Williams said: "This operation is a great example of the cross-force working – from local Neighbourhood Police Teams to our specialist crime team.
"Organised Crime causes widespread misery in our communities by creating a domino effect of crimes being committed – many of the lower level offences designed to fund the more serious. Members of these groups also prey on the most vulnerable in our society – be that by plying them with drugs or forcing them to break the law for their benefit.
"Tackling Organised Crime Groups is a Wiltshire Police priority and is one which involves officers and police staff of all levels. Most of the initial intelligence on criminal activity in our communities comes via the local NPTs who are the familiar, trusted faces in our towns and villages.
"Although this Organised Crime Group was based in Swindon, the town remains a safe place to live and work with the overall total number of crimes reported in Swindon down by more than 1,470 incidents – from 19,953 in 2011/12 to 18,483 in 2012/13.
"Part of this is a reduction in serious violent offences in Swindon which have fallen by more than 25% in the last year.
"I would also like to thank the local community for the role they play in helping us reduce crime – community based intelligence is crucial in both detecting and solving crime."