Organised cocaine gang operating in Portsmouth jailed for 100 years

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  • Gang brought to justice by Hampshire police’ serious and organised crime unit
  • Eight conspirators jailed for 100 years by a judge
  • Two money launderers handed suspended sentences for their role
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AN ORGANISED cocaine ring has been jailed for a combined total of 100 years.

The eight-strong gang brought high-purity import quality shipments into Portsmouth ready for it to be cut and sold on to drug users across the city.

The conspiracy involved the sourcing of import quality cocaine on a commercial scale from London and Luton and the collection and delivery of the drug by some of you and others in Portsmouth

Judge Sarah Munro QC

Now, after a Hampshire police investigation – called Operation Odin – eight members of the gang are behind bars.

Figures based on a shipment of a seized half-kilogram bag of 90 per cent purity cocaine had the gang making a profit of £2.025m with £675,000 spent on buying the drugs, the court heard.

These figures were disputed as they were projections based on one shipment.

Hampshire police’s serious and organised crime unit used undercover surveillance, CCTV footage and number plate recognition cameras to track members of the gang – run by two Albanian men not caught – making drug runs to London and Luton.

Samuel McNamee acted as ‘lynchpin’ and met with serving prisoner Agin Degani, and was helped by his own right-hand man Matthew Hallett, judge Sarah Munro QC said.

George Browning arranged for McNamee to change his cocaine supplier to Degani, the court heard.

Stacey Smith organised for huge shipments of the cutting agent Benzocaine from China. Not all of this was used in the conspiracy.

Skender Ymeraj was closely linked to Degani and was caught handing over the half-kilo to McNamee’s father-in-law Kevin Williams, the judge said.

Lorenc Ymeraj’s role was ‘hard on the evidence to identify’ but was at a high level, she added.

And Daniel Paterson sold the drug on after it had been cut.

Sentencing, the judge said: ‘This case involves an organised crime group headed by at least two Albanian males.

‘One of those was Agin Degani, and by early January 2014 an unidentified male who lived in the London area given the name by police of Logistics.

‘The conspiracy involved the sourcing of import quality cocaine on a commercial scale from London and Luton and the collection and delivery of the drug by some of you and others in Portsmouth.

‘It involved the cutting of the cocaine with Benzocaine, sourced from China by you, Stacey Paul Smith, and then the onward supply in wholesale quantities, almost certainly with a view to the drug being further cut before final distribution on the streets of Portsmouth.’

The defendants were all convicted of conspiring to supply a class A drug, cocaine, between June 2013 and October 2014. Their names and sentences are:

n Daniel Paterson, 34, of Heritage Way, Gosport – 10 years.

n Kevin Williams, 45, of Willersley Close, Paulsgrove – nine years.

n Lorenc Ymeraj, 31, of Lords Street, Landport – 14 years.

n Skender Ymeraj, 25, of Wingfield Street, Buckland – 14 years.

n Stacey Smith, 38, of Oriel Road, North End – 12 years.

n Matthew Hallett, 34, of Anmore Road, Waterlooville – 12 years.

n George Browning, 41, of Mill Road, Emsworth – 14 years.

n Samuel McNamee, 28, of Rockrose Way, Paulsgrove – 15 years.

McNamee pleaded guilty part-way through the trial and the rest were found guilty by a jury.

Luljeta Ymeraj, 30, of Lords Street, Landport, and Sunil Singh, 23, of Laburnum Grove, Portsmouth, were found guilty of money laundering between 2010 and 2014 and got suspended terms.