West Norfolk drugs gang jailed for more than 40 years
PUBLISHED: 07:42 08 March 2011 | UPDATED: 10:49 08 March 2011
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Norfolk police were last night celebrating a major victory in the battle against Class A drugs after a gang involved in the supply of cocaine and heroin on the streets of King's Lynn were jailed for a total of more than 40 years.
The gang was smashed after an undercover operation during the summer called Operation Lynx in which two officers known as “Zoe” and “Finn” carried out test purchases of the drugs which had been supplied by dealers in London.
The pair of undercover officers got to know a network of drug dealers, routinely getting their phone numbers and buying drugs worth between £10 and £40. One of the gang even asked “Zoe” if she was an undercover officer before going on to supply her with drugs.
Norwich Crown Court heard how the pair scored wraps of crack cocaine and heroin across King’s Lynn in places including The Walks, parks behind the dealer’s homes and at King’s Lynn cemetery.
“Zoe” or “Finn” would meet up with the dealers, who would then ring up other dealers.
The court heard that Falzal Kaji, 23, who mainly acted as a driver, and David Abiona, 23, both from London, had met up with the undercover officer “Zoe” who had bought crack cocaine and heroin from Abiona.
The pair, from London, were the first to be arrested on October 4 and police then smashed the network by carrying out a series of further early-morning raids at homes on the Fairstead estate. Around 30 detectives and police officers were involved in carrying out warrants under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
At the time police said they were acting on concerns about drug dealing raised by people living on the estate, and community leaders and King’s Lynn and West Norfolk superintendent Nick Davison warned: “We are not a soft touch and we will take action to protect our communities from this menace.”
Yesterday 11 defendants, who have all pleaded guilty, appeared in court on charges of supplying and being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.
The defendants were Jonathon Fox, 32, of Highfield, King’s Lynn, jailed for four years six months; Kevin Holmes, 29 of Far Pasture, Peterborough, jailed for three years six months; Augusto Reis, 36, of Minister Court in King’s Lynn, jailed for three years six months; Martin Hofwolt, 40, of Shiregreen, King’s Lynn, jailed for four years; Jamie Chilvers, 28, of Telford Close, King’s Lynn, jailed for four years; Jonathan Short, 29, of Middlewood, King’s Lynn, jailed for three years; Falzal Kaji, 23, of Nisbett House, Homerton High Street, London, jailed for six and half years; David Abiona, 23, of Millfields Road, London, jailed for five years; Ricky Bridges, 34, of The Maltings, King’s Lynn, jailed for two years six months; and Alain Lema, 33, Silver Green, King’s Lynn, jailed for four years.
Makeda Todd-Thomas, 20, also from London, was given a 12-month sentence suspended for two years and ordered to do 150 hours’ unpaid work.
Sentencing them, Judge Martin Binning said the supply of Class A drugs often led to the people committing further offences to fund their habit which led to “knock-on crime”.
“The courts are forced to take a serious view of these sort of offences,” he said.
The court heard that many of the defendants were themselves addicted to drugs and had sold the drugs to help pay for their own habit.
Katharine Moore, defending Abiona, said he had an addiction to cocaine.
Philip Farr, for Reis, said that he had funded his drug use through legitimate means but after losing his job 12 months ago that coincided with his offending.
John Farmer, for Lema, said he was a failed asylum-seeker who had become an addict.
Mr Farmer, who also represented Bridges, said in his case it was just one offence and he was at the “bottom of the pile”
Lindsay Cox, for Holmes, said he wanted to put his time in custody to good use to try to become drug-free.
Mr Cox, who also appeared for Chilvers, said:”It’s plain that he is at the bottom of the pecking order in terms of his involvement.”
William Carter, for Hofwolt, said he had a long-standing drug problem: “He acted as a go-between.”
Mr Carter, also for Short, said that on two occasions he had helped out a fellow drug user and did so in return for drugs for his own use
Vedrama Pehar, for Kaji, said that his role was mainly to act as a driver: “He did not hold any stash of drugs and did not have any contact with purchase of the drugs.”