Drugs gang jailed after 16-month police investigation

Police outside Blake's nightclub in Gravesend after a car drove down the alleyway next to the club and crashed into a marquee injuring a number of people. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

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Members of a drug gang said to be the main suppliers of heroin and crack cocaine in Portsmouth and Waterlooville have been jailed for a total of nearly 30 years.

The gang was led by Austin Stanbury, who lived a life of luxury in a waterside apartment in London.

He was jailed for 10 years while his accomplice, Hamida Merzoug, was sentenced to six years.

Between them Stanbury, known as Tin, and Merzoug, who was known as Sky, exploited young people to get them to do their dirty work.

They would prey on people who had recently lost loved ones, the unemployed and addicts desperate for drugs.

John Scott and James West, both from Portsmouth, and Jennifer Collins, from Fareham, acted as ‘landlords’.

Prosecutor Daniel Sawyer said they would let drug mules from London stay in exchange for heroin and crack cocaine.

Rhys Morar, Rebecca Willems, Katheline Kombey and Stacey DaCosta were the mules used to deliver the drugs from London to Portsmouth.

The goods would then be sold by street dealers in the area.

Detective Constable Rich Bateman, who led the investigation, said: ‘These people were part of a prolific, organised group who conspired to create and run a regular supply chain of drugs between London and Portsmouth.

‘Stanbury and Merzoug were the busiest and the main suppliers of heroin and crack cocaine into Portsmouth and Waterlooville.’

During the 16-month investigation police built up a mass of evidence from under cover surveillance and mobile phone analysis.

When they raided Scott and Collins’ former home in Magdala Road, Cosham, they found £3,500 worth of drugs.

At West’s home in Allaway Avenue, Paulsgrove, officers uncovered £3,880 worth of heroin and crack cocaine.

In all heroin and cocaine with a total value of at least £16,000 was seized.

While most of the gang was arrested last August Merzoug wasn’t caught until the following month when police intercepted her trying to smuggle heroin to Stanbury on a prison visit.

Police are now looking to confiscate cash and assets from the group.

Det Con Bateman added: ‘I would always encourage people to contact the police with any concerns they have about drugs in their neighbourhood.

‘It’s also important to remember that drugs have a significant link to burglaries, robberies and theft, which often pay for the habits of the addicts.

‘Class A drug dealers remain among our main targets because intercepting them can help prevent other serious crimes.’