Albanian cocaine conviction ‘not indicative of a wider problem’

The District Commander, Chief Inspector Peter Steenhuis said yesterday [Tuesday] that the investigation that led to nine Albanian gang members receiving a combined sentence of more than 60 years was the result of ‘dedicated officers working in specialist roles who proactively target these criminals’.

He said: “There is simply no place in Kent for people who choose to supply drugs.”

The Chief Inspector continued: “The recent prison sentences handed to nine Albanian gang members involved in the supply of cocaine in Tunbridge Wells, is a testament to the continuing effectiveness of these investigations and not indicative of a wider problem in the area.

“These offenders were part of a well-organised crime group, something that is not common in our area, and their successful prosecution shows we have the resources and ability to target them and bring them to justice.

“My officers are committed to ensuring the town remains a safe place to live and work, and I would encourage anyone with concerns about drug dealing in their community to contact us on 101 or via the Kent Police website.”

The gang behind the multi-million pound cocaine ring used a single mobile phone to organise the supply of cocaine to users in Tunbridge Wells, from Surrey Quays in London.

Drug users ordering bags of cocaine would call the phone in London, while dealers in rented accommodation in Tunbridge Wells were called by the organisers and sent to the customer’s location.

Between May and October, 2018, it is estimated more than £4million of the drug was ordered and delivered to the people living in Tunbridge Wells.

Police say the drug ring was finally brought to book when they discovered that the London-based phone was topped up using vouchers bought at shops in Tunbridge Wells.

Detectives were then able to identify other members of the gang because they had purchased credit vouchers for the phone.

When officers swooped to arrest the gang members at various addresses across the South East, they found the mobile phones, more than £20,000 of cash as well as several quantities of cocaine.

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.

In total ten men were convicted for supplying the Class-A substance to users in Tunbridge Wells, but one of the ten men received a suspended sentence.

Organiser of the supply network, Nelson Aliaj, 28, received 15 years in jail, while his ‘lieutenant’, Ervis Dervishi, 21, was sentenced to more than six years.

Seven other men received sentences between three and seven years.

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