Norfolk’s ‘James Bond’ drugs gang leader jailed

The Norfolk leader of a drug gang who sold millions of pounds worth of cocaine to fund a 'James Bond' playboy lifestyle of fast cars, speedboats and luxury homes has been jailed.

Amid tight security, with armed police officers looking on in the courtroom at Exeter, Timothy Eastgate, 31, Paul Flisher, 38, and five others were jailed for conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Their international network, which enabled them to buy Lamborghini and Ferrari sports cars, speedboats and villas on the Costa del Sol and in the English countryside, was exposed by police working on Operation Stagshaw after a gang member's car was pulled over on the M5 in Devon for having no insurance and �250,000 worth of cocaine found inside.

Eastgate was jailed for 16 years for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and seven years for the two firearms offences, which he had previously admitted, a total of 23 years.

The court heard that Eastgate was the kingpin of the operation, running it from his home in Wymondham and Spain. Running operations in Essex was Flisher, of Epping, whose girlfriend Lisa Varley was acquitted of being involved at the trial.

Filsher was jailed for 14 years for the drugs offence and seven years for firearms offences, which he had also admitted, a total of 21 years. The others were jailed for between eight and 12 years each.

Police discovered that those at the top end of the gang had given themselves the trappings of extreme wealth – expensive Ferrari and Lambourghini cars. Eastgate modelled himself on James Bond, only using mobile numbers ending in 007, had the same number on his motorbike helmet, and named his speedboat in Spain Shaken not Stirred.

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He bought his Wymondham mansion from a Premiership footballer, had a glamorous blonde girlfriend and boasted of his close contacts in the pop and entertainment world.

In a garage at Eastgate's estate officers found a strong-arm press – used to compress cocaine into blocks – an airport-style X-ray machine and suitcases. Investigators believe the gang would slice open the suitcase linings and experiment with concealing drugs inside, passing the bags through the X-ray machine until they were satisfied they could not be easily seen. They would then use superglue to secure the linings.

An adapted black-firing pistol was found in Eastgate's home freezer along with a silencer.

Nigel Pascoe QC, representing Eastgate, said the gun was not for use in relation to the drugs operation but because of fears after four armed men had previously broken into the family home, leaving Eastgate's wife 'terrified'.

Sentencing, Judge Phillip Wassall said the conspiracy was 'professionally organised' and 'funded by Eastgate'. He told him: 'You are an intelligent man of real ability who chose to put his considerable talents into organising cocaine trafficking. You actively pursued it with the intention of making extremely high financial gain.'

Police will now try to seize the gang's assets.

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