Drugs gang sentenced to more than 88 years for roles selling cocaine and money laundering
Members of an organised crime group (OGC) who supplied cocaine across Wales before converting the money from the deals into digital currency have received prison sentences totalling more than 88 years.
Twelve people pleaded guilty to various offences at Cardiff Crown Court on Thursday 27 and Friday 28 July, including Joshua Billingham, 26, from Caerphilly, and Amir Khan, 30, from Cardiff, who both admitted conspiracy to supply class A drugs, possession with intent to supply class C drugs and money laundering offences.
Four men from Caerphilly – Leon Sullivan, 25; Callum Richards, 25; Darryl Skym, 28; and Ian Kidley, 24 – all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
Matthew Dean, 35, and Joshua Collins, 26, both from Caerphilly, admitted the offences of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and money laundering.
Stacey Challenger, 29, from Caerphilly; Sami Rehman, 28, of Cardiff, and Sidra Khan, 27, from Birmingham, all pled guilty to money laundering, while Caitlin de Jager, 24, of Cardiff, admitted money laundering and being concerned in the supply of class A drugs offences.
Operation Solana, led by Gwent Police, was a two-year long investigation to dismantle the network and involved working with Dyfed Powys Police, South Wales Police and West Midlands Police as well as the regional and organised crime unit (ROCU) and the National Crime Agency.
Detective Constable Michael Coles who led the investigation said: “These sentences are the culmination of more than two years of meticulous work to disrupt, dismantle and bring this organised crime group to justice.
“The group operated on a hierarchical basis, sourcing vast amounts of cocaine and relied on the help of close friends and associates to distribute the drugs to dealers in south and mid Wales.
“Joshua Billingham and Amir Khan played the leading management role and used friends and family to launder the money obtained through drugs to cryptocurrency accounts in their names.”
The court heard how the group used stash houses and industrial units to store, mix and supply their drugs. Between them, they supplied more than 40 kilograms of cocaine, a street value of £4,600,000, to drug dealers across Wales.
The total value of Crypto currency that passed through the OCG’s accounts was more than £3,000,000.
“This is one of the first cases in Gwent where cryptocurrency was used to launder money.
“Due to the hard work and expertise of our cybercrime unit, we were able to trace the money and bring these offenders to justice,” Detective Constable Coles added.
“We’re delighted with the sentences issued and hope it serves as a deterrent to those who choose to involve themselves with organised crime.
“We will not just pursue those supplying the drugs, we will also take positive action against those who choose to aid in their criminality such as concealing financial rewards.
“I’d like to thank our partners who worked with us on this case as they helped us to make arrests and gather intelligence to allow us to provide further evidence of this group’s illegal activity.”
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