Three members of a drugs gang who facilitated the sale of 20 kilogrammes of Class A drugs across Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire have been jailed for more than 23 years, following an investigation by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).
Jaspreet Virdee, 42, of Horsegate, Market Deeping, organised the large scale distribution of cocaine. He was supported by Max Thomas, 21, of Coventry Close, Peterborough, who acted as a courier, ferrying drugs from one location to another, and Reece Mucklin, 24, of Frederik Drive, Peterborough, who stored large quantities of cocaine at his house.
Virdee and Thomas used encrypted devices to arrange their drug deals, collecting thousands of pounds at a time in exchange for significant quantities of Class A drugs. Over a three month between March and June 2020, police uncovered messaged linking the two to the sale of around 15 kilogrammes of cocaine.
On one occasion, messages showed Virdee attempting to purchase seven kilogrammes of cocaine in just one day, underlying the scale of this operation. A further five kilogrammes of cocaine was found in Mucklin’s house when police raided the property.
At a hearing at Peterborough Crown Court today (Friday), Virdee was jailed for 11 and a half years, while Thomas and Mucklin received seven and a half and four and a half year sentences respectively, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
The trio were arrested by ERSOU officers as part Operation Venetic, UK’s biggest ever law enforcement operation in spring 2020, which saw data uncovered following the seizure of servers linked to the Encrochat platform – an encrypted tool used exclusively by criminals to communicate with each other – allowed investigators to view messages and other media sent between users as they discussed large-scale criminality such as the movement of drugs and weapons.
Detective Inspector Dave Skarratts, from ERSOU, said: “This is the latest in a series of significant drug dealing operations that have been dismantled as a result of Operation Venetic.
“Drug dealers such as these three thought that they could operate above the law and evade justice, and we’re pleased to have been able to show them that this isn’t the case with them now facing a substantial time behind bars.
“The evidence was so overwhelming that they faced no other choice than to plead guilty.
“I hope this result shows that organised crime doesn’t pay – you will be caught and made to pay the price for your actions. We’ll now be looking to use Proceeds of Crime Act legislation to strip these criminals of their ill-gotten gains.”