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Encrochat gang caught on surveillance collecting kilos of cocaine

Three men who were operating a ‘drugs empire’ which sold huge quantities of cocaine across the country have been jailed.

An extensive investigation by ERSOU’s Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) found that an organised crime group (OCG) led by two brothers, Ansar and Ajmal Akram, from Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, used encrypted phones to organise exchanges of multiple kilogrammes of cocaine at a time.

Using specialist surveillance officers over a six-month period in 2019, detectives followed the group, which was orchestrated by Ansar with Ajmal as his lieutenant, as they travelled the length and breadth of the country to sell the drugs, including to Yorkshire, Dorset, Middlesbrough, Leicester, Luton, Northampton and Buckinghamshire.

They distributed substantial amounts of cocaine at a time, often selling to other localised OCGs for onward sale.

A third man, Ryan Brockley, from Leicestershire, acted as a regional wholesaler and was instrumental in a number of exchanges. He was also arrested in October 2019.

At a St Albans Crown Court hearing  on Monday (9 August), the trio were each sentenced as follows:

  • Ansar Akram, 34, of Thumpers, Hemel Hempstead, was jailed for 15 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and possession of criminal property

  • Ajmal Akram, 30, of Thumpers, Hemel Hempstead, was jailed for 14 years after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine and possession of criminal property

  • Ryan Brockley, 34, of Deepdale, Leicester, was jailed for five years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine

Three other men pleaded guilty yesterday (Wednesday) to charges of conspiracy to supply a class A drug, and are due to be sentenced on 6 September. They are:

  • Jameel Khan, 27, of Winchester Street, Nottingham

  • Ali Zarei, 27, of Derngate, Northampton

  • Sarfraz Asif, 40, of Dordans Road, Luton

Detective Inspector Ian Mawdesley, from ERSOU’s Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “It’s apparent that Ansar and Ajmal Akram were instrumental in the distribution of a significant amount of cocaine across a huge geographical area, and to know they will be in jail and unable to bring further misery to our communities for an extended period is fantastic.

“Ansar, who headed up the group, thought nothing about directing the operation from the security of his home in an attempt to keep his hands clean, whilst putting others in the group at risk. This included his younger brother, Ajmal, who met with couriers to collect the money.

“By removing those individuals in charge of criminal gangs such as this from society, not only are we keeping them away from causing further harm but we’re also stopping the flow of dangerous illegal substances across the country.

“Through monitoring their activity, we were also able to piece together the involvement of a number of other OCGs, which will feed into other investigations already taking place by police colleagues across the country.

“This outcome is the result of a painstaking operation from a large number of investigators, many of whom have spent hundreds of hours tracking the group, establishing their involvement, and compiling significant amounts of evidence. I can only thank them for their exceptional work.”

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