International drugs gang dismantled by Kent
An international drugs gang has been successfully dismantled following the convictions of several prominent members.
Nicholas Yates, 37, from Aylesford, was the Kent ringleader of a large group of dealers, money launderers and fraudsters involved in the smuggling of drugs into the UK from Europe.
Today he was sentenced to nine years in prison for conspiring to supply 22kg of amphetamine sulphate worth £1 million, laundering a total of £127,780, and committing mortgage fraud worth £807,500.
The two-year investigation into the gang is one of the biggest ever undertaken by Kent Police, and has resulted in 31 men and women being charged – nearly half from this county.
Sixteen people have been sentenced to a total of just over 70 years in prison.
Last November a raid of 50 premises in Kent, Teesside and London uncovered £262,000 in cash, two handguns – one of which was linked to an attempted murder – and more than £4m worth of cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine, ecstasy and crystal MDMA.
Det Supt Tim Smith said: "It’s hugely rewarding to see these tangible results after such a long, complicated and multi-faceted investigation.
"We’ve taken out the ringleaders of a very organised and dangerous crime gang whose members stopped at nothing to fuel their greed for money and the high life through the illegal drugs trade.
"Our work isn’t over because we’re pursuing the gang’s money and assets, but today’s sentences mean we’ve broken the back of what has been one of the biggest operations ever led by Kent Police.
"But the most satisfying thing of all is that we have saved some people from certain death and enhanced the quality of life of others by taking these gang members out of the community and allowing the criminal justice system to punish them."
Three other co-defendants were sentenced alongside Yates at Maidstone Crown Court today, among them 43-year-old Greenhithe builder Richard Wheeler.
He was jailed for nine years and four months for a catalogue of offences including money laundering, drug smuggling and drug possession with intent to supply.