A gang of drug dealers who sold cocaine to fund their lavish lifestyles have been found guilty of supplying the class A substance across Lincolnshire.
Nottingham Crown Court heard how the men sold high purity cocaine to fund lavish lifestyles including owning racehorses, designer clothes worth tens of thousands of pounds, Ducati motorcycles and foreign holidays paid for with cash.
On August 10, Robert Diaz, 42, of Maltkiln Lane, Waddington, Barry Knight, 59, of Nuneaton Road, Bedworth, Warwickshire, and Stephen Oliver, 44, of Windsor Street, Rugby, Warwickshire, were found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A drugs. Oliver had also previously pleaded guilty to a count of producing cannabis between June 1, 2019 and January 16, 2020.
The cocaine was trafficked into Lincolnshire from the West Midlands by two organised crime groups. The complex drugs operation involved an organised crime group from Lincoln sourcing cocaine from another group based in and around Coventry between January 1, 2019 and January 27 2020.
The court heard that Lincoln-based couriers made frequent trips to the Coventry area for exchanges to take place, and drug buys also took place in a rural area near to Stanton on the Wolds in Nottinghamshire
The operation was uncovered by detectives and investigators from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit and Lincolnshire Police as part of Operation Hammer.
Warrants were executed across Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands in February 2020.
Detective Inspector Kerry Webb from the EMSOU said: “This was a complex and highly organised group of criminals.
“Our evidence revealed how five conspirators set up drug deals using encrypted mobile phones in an effort to evade law enforcement, and drugs were exchanged in rural car parks, or the car parks of pubs.
“The lavish lifestyles of those involved in organised crime gangs are not passed on to those they exploit to move the drugs, nor the users addicted to the substances.
“A huge amount of work went into it, from working with our partner agencies and local communities, to the specialist teams which execute warrants and seize evidence, forensics, and investigators who act on intelligence we receive.
“This is about making our communities safer, and protecting those who are most vulnerable from harm. This operation is yet another example of the success we are having throughout Lincolnshire to tackle the supply of drugs and associated criminality.
“We identified and successfully dismantled a significant organised crime group, and the result will go a long way in making our streets safer.”
A further seven men had already pleaded guilty to other charges related to their part in the conspiracy, which also included the production of cannabis.
Edward Wivell, 41, of North Parade, Lincoln, Stuart Bassett-Hawcock, 34, of Oaklands Close, Lincoln, Jon Moreton, 49, of Torbay Road, Coventry, Joseph McCluskey, 43, of Parkfield Road, Keresley End, Coventry, Jack Constable, 33, of Foxhall Road, Nottingham and Michael Kershaw, 41, of Florian Way, Coventry, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supplying cocaine.
Andrew Turner, 39, of Holmcroft, Coventry pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply cocaine, one count of producing cannabis, and one offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
Scott Lowman, 34, of Churchill Drive, Bracebridge Heath was found not guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine. He previously pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cannabis between May 1, 2017 and January 16, 2020.
Brett Keenan, 27, of Fulmar Road, Lincoln was found not guilty of one count of conspiracy to supply cocaine, and one count of being concerned in supply cocaine. He previously pleaded guilty to one count of being concerned in the supply of cannabis between June 1, 2018 and December 31, 2019.
Ryan Glass, 29, of Dark Lane, Bedworth, Warwickshire was found not guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine.
The men will be sentenced in October.