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Over 170 years in jail for Nottingham drugs gang who shot rivals and showed off lavish lifestyles

The gang, which sold vast quantities of cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin on the streets of Nottingham, Mansfield, Kirkby and Sutton-in-Ashfield, came to the attention of police after a series of shooting incidents in late 2018 and early 2019.

Four members of a violent gang of drug dealers who flaunted their wealth in an increasingly lavish series of music videos have been locked up for a combined total of more than 50 years.

They were convicted after a re-trial at Nottingham Crown Court, which began on 2 October, and were sentenced on Tuesday (28 November 2023).

They were finally brought down by covert police work.

In one incident, on 9 May 2019, a member of a rival criminal gang was shot in the neck as gang leader and aspiring rap star Akeem Chand fired multiple shots at his car on a residential street.

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Between July 2018 and June 2019, the gang made huge sums of money which they flaunted on expensive jewellery, designer clothes, holidays, and the production of music videos, in which they bragged about their drug-funded wealth.

At one point, in March 2019, several members of the gang – who had almost no legitimate income between them – flew to Mexico’s Caribbean coast where they stayed in a lavishly appointed private villa and even hired a luxury motor yacht.

Both were used as props in a professionally produced music video recorded on the trip in which the gang boasted about dealing drugs, flaunted their jewellery, and wondered aloud how they could count all the money they were making.

After falling under police suspicion the gang became the subject of an extensive covert police operation, which caught the gang openly discussing the sale of drugs and the shooting of rivals.

In August 2021, after a trial at Nottingham Crown Court, six men were convicted by a jury of two charges – conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to possess ammunition without a certificate. Each of them had previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply Class A and B drugs.

They were jailed for a combined total of more than 120 years when they were sentenced in October 2021.

On Tuesday (28 November 2023) 28-year-old Jayden Gorewoda, formerly of Tenbury Crescent, Aspley, was jailed for 22 years after he was convicted of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, possession of ammunition, and conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs.

Jason Mility, aged 33, formerly of Longdale Road, Sherwood, was convicted of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, possession of ammunition, and conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs. Due to a previous conviction for possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, he received a life sentence with a minimum term of 14 years.

Damion Martin, aged 41, formerly of Wyton Close, Sherwood, was also convicted of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, possession of ammunition, and conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs. He was locked up for 14 years.

Zak Charles, who was a child at the time of the offences but is now aged 21, was convicted of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Charles, formerly of Bulwell, had previously been convicted of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, conspiracy to possess ammunition without a certificate, and conspiracy to supply Class B drugs, for which he was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years.

For conspiring to supply Class A drugs he was given 18 months to be served consecutively – increasing his total sentence to 10 years.

Those previously convicted and sentenced in 2021 were:

  • Akeem Chand, aged 29, formerly of Melbourne Road, Aspley – jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years before he becomes eligible for parole.
  • Devante Neufville, aged 26, formerly of no fixed address – was jailed for 20 years.
  • Orlando Escoffery, aged 28, formerly of Fenton Road, Basford – was jailed for 23 years.
  • Kiefer Smith, aged 30, formerly of Dallman Close, Hucknall – was jailed for 17 years.
  • Alexsandro Woolery, aged 29, formerly of Portland Road, Carlton – was jailed for 22 years.
  • Quarnell Simpson, aged 26, formerly of Nuthall Road, Aspley – was jailed for 20 years.
  • Ravan Mather-Simpson, aged 27, formerly of Mansfield Road, Sherwood – was jailed for 10 years and four months after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs.
  • Sarah Aplin, aged 29, formerly of Wyton Close, Bestwood – had previously admitted to a charge of allowing a premises to be used for the supply of controlled drugs. She was jailed for two years and three months.

 

The Gang

Akeem Chand was the undisputed leader of a gang that controlled a sophisticated and highly profitable network of drug lines – mobile phone numbers used to advertise and sell drugs to customers.

The drugs were then delivered around the county by a network of couriers and enforcers – each of whom collected the bare minimum of merchandise from a network of ‘stash’ or safehouses in case they were ever stopped by the police.

Those same safehouses were also used to store an array of modern firearms, which would later be used in a mutually damaging tit-for-tat turf war with a rival gang. One of them, a property in Bestwood, was even used as a backdrop to a music video the group posted online.

The shootings

Police were alerted to the activities of the gang by a series of shootings – the first of which took place in Minver Crescent, Aspley, on 13 December 2018, when a shot was fired at a car suspected to contain rival gang members. An offence for which Chand was ultimately arrested.

Things really began to unravel for the gang on 9 May 2019 when Chand and Simpson, driving in the Basford area of Nottingham, had a chance encounter at a set of traffic lights with members of a rival gang.

Insults are believed to have been exchanged – causing Chand and Simpson to go looking for their rivals. Around 15 minutes later they found them and set up a hastily arranged ambush, with Chand exiting the vehicle as Simpson drove head-on towards the other car and blocked its path. Chand then approached on foot and fired a .44 calibre revolver at close quarters into the car. The bullet ricocheted around the vehicle and struck the victim in the neck.

Showing a brazen disregard for the safety of members of the public, Chand then discharged several more shots as his victim sped from the scene in panic. Unbeknown to him the entire attack had been captured on the victim’s dashcam – giving police a detailed account of what had happened.

Only a few days later, on the night of 12 May, shots were fired at the empty vehicle of a gang member in an apparent revenge attack in Meregill Close – another residential street.

Detectives at Nottinghamshire Police were convinced that the shootings were linked and that Chand and his associates were involved. As a result, a covert investigation was commenced into Chand and his associates.

This captured the group conducting multiple drug deals and discussing the best wording for a text message advertisement they were planning to send out to tout their illegal wares.

Crucially the gang were heard plotting a revenge shooting that would be carried out on the evening of 22 May in Hazel Hill Crescent, Bestwood – again targeted at a rival gang who had knocked one of Chand’s associates off his motorbike. Two men on a motorbike eventually fired four shots at the building – shattering two windows and leaving bullets logged in a living room wall.

The cycle of tit-for-tat shootings was concluded on 27 May in Melbourne Road, Aspley, when a shotgun was fired through the front window of Chand’s then home address.

Downfall

Now armed with very compelling evidence, the detectives moved in and arrested the gang. Subsequent property searches revealed significant quantities of drugs, cash, and guns, one of which was forensically linked to the Hazel Hill Crescent shooting.

Detectives were not able to prove conclusively who pulled the trigger in every offence and successfully argued instead that the men had all conspired together to store and use the weapons in a way that posed a clear and obvious risk to life.

Detective Superintendent Rich Bull, of Nottinghamshire Police, said:

“The sentences passed on Tuesday bring a conclusion to what was a very complex police investigation. I would like to pay tribute to everybody who worked tirelessly on this case and helped to bring these extremely dangerous men to justice.

“This was a very successful gang that were making huge sums of money from a wide-spread and sophisticated drug dealing network. Ultimately, however, they were undone by their own arrogance, recklessness, and meticulous police work.

“Here we had a group of young men with almost no discernible legal income between them living the lives of music stars or footballers – spending quite incredible sums on jewellery, holidays, designer clothes, and the other trappings of wealth.

“All the more incredible was the fact they made so little effort to spend their money so discreetly – choosing instead to brag on social media posts about just how much of it they were spending. It was, however, their ready use of violence that led to their undoing.

“These men thought nothing of discharging firearms in residential streets, with total disregard for the safety of local residents. Shooting incidents are both incredibly rare and extremely serious, so when they do happen we dedicate whatever resources we deem necessary to catch the people responsible and take their weapons off the streets.

“When guns are discharged in the street there is always a reason. In this case that reason led us very quickly to Chand and his associates, who by that time were effectively boasting openly of their drug dealing and violence online. We knew exactly what they were up to but were still faced with the challenge of getting enough evidence to bring them to justice.

“Our subsequent covert investigation unearthed a treasure trove of damning evidence that has ultimately led to the men’s convictions and lengthy sentences. I hope they send a very clear warning to other criminals about the potential consequences of acquiring and using illegal firearms.”

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