A covert bug placed in a drug ringleader’s car helped police bring down one of the biggest cocaine gangs in Peterborough - with six members of the operation being jailed for nearly 40 years.
Six members of the gang were locked up a total of 38 years eight months at Cambridge Crown Court on Tuesday, after admitting their role in bringing commercial quantities of ‘import quality cocaine’ to Peterborough. The leader of the gang, Michael Flash, earned thousands from the trade, treating his six children to days out at theme parks with his ill-gotten gains - but he was jailed for 10 years, after a sophisticated police operation managed to put a stop to his trade.
Officers used covert surveillance and even a ‘wire’ placed in Flash’s car to bring the gang to justice.
Along with drugs worth at least £100,000, officers discovered 40kg of chemicals used by the gang to ‘cut’ the product, so they could sell the cocaine to users at an even bigger profit.
Charlie Myatt, prosecuting, told the court officers followed Darren Chambers and Flash down to London in February for what was believed to be a ‘drugs run.’
The court was told Chambers - who was described as a ‘courier’ for the operation - carried out a number of runs to London.
On his last one he was stopped by police, and found with 2kg of cocaine. The cocaine had a purity of about 75 per cent, and Mr Myatt said the drugs had a value of between £30,000-£50,000 per kilo.
Mr Myatt said police, using a covert recording device installed in Flash’s car, had heard how at one point Flash said he had 3kg of cocaine - and enough money to buy 3kg more.
In total, police seized three-and-a-quarter kilos of cocaine from the gang.
The court was told each member of the conspiracy had a role - Imran Qureshi was described as second in command, and provided finances for the gang to expand and buy more cocaine and paraphernalia. Stephen Marriott - Flash’s brother-in-law - assisted with administration, and acted as a go-between for Flash and other members of the gang.
Darren Chambers was the courier, while Jordan Fraser sourced the cocaine to Leicestershire. The final member of the gang to be sentenced was Kevin Overall, who was a ‘warehouseman.’ The court heard he looked after barrels of cutting agents at his home.
Many of the gang members have children, with the court hearing Marriott became involved in the sale of the drugs to earn money because he wanted to move to a different area of the country to give his children a better education.
Edward Renvoize, defending Flash, said his client had fallen into selling drugs after becoming addicted himself.
He said:” He is an intelligent man. He found himself with a drugs debt, and worked selling cocaine to work off that debt. He realised there was a good living to be made, and after be paid off his debts he continued selling.”
Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Cooper said: “Drugs kill. They wreck lives.”
There was a packed public gallery at the court, as friends and family of the gang said goodbye to the defendants as they started lengthy sentences.
Michael Flash (34) of Lombardy Drive, Peterborough, was jailed for 10 years, Imran Qureshi (29) of Bishops Road, Peterborough was jailed for 10 years, Stephen Marriott (39) of Thorolds Way, Castor was jailed for six years and two months and Darren Chambers (45) of Heyford Close, Peterborough, was jailed for four years and two months. They all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
Jordan Fraser (24), of no fixed abode, was jailed for four years and two months after pleading guilty to possession of class A drugs with intent to supply and possession of Class A drugs. Kevin Overall (46) of Gransley Rise, Peterborough, was jailed for four years and two months after pleading guilty to being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs, and production of cannabis.
A proceeds of crime hearing in relation to the case is planned for spring 2017.