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Drug gang behind Nottingham shootings, yachts, jewellery and music videos brought to justice

The gang made large sums of cash which they flaunted with the purchase of expensive jewellery, designer clothes, holidays and the production of music videos, in which they boasted about their drug-funded wealth.

A violent, gun-toting gang of drug dealers who flaunted their wealth in increasingly lavish music videos were finally brought down by a combination of covert police work and their own arrogance.

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

Custody pics 1pm 2

In one incident in May 2019 a member of a rival criminal gang was shot in the neck as gang leader and aspiring ​drill music star Akeem Chand fired multiple shots into his car as it travelled along a residential street ​in the early evening.

Hazlehill Crescent gun

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Between July 2018 and June 2019 the gang made ​extremely large sums of cash which they flaunted with the purchase of expensive jewellery, designer clothes, holidays and the production of music videos, in which they boasted about their drug-funded wealth.

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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 strayed in a lavishly appointed private villa and even hired a luxury motor yacht.

Both were used as locations ​for a professionally-produced produced music video recorded on the trip. In ​it the gang bragged about dealing drugs, posed with their jewellery and boasted about how they needed a ‘Money Counter’ to count their profits.

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In another music video – published on YouTube under Chand’s stage name Brutz – members of the gang were filmed in and around a block of flats at in Bestwood that they used as a safe house for storing drugs and guns. Detectives were further helped by high-definition aerial drone footage of the location.

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After falling under police suspicion the gang became the subject of an extensive covert police operation, during which a listening device planted in a car caught the gang openly discussing the sale of drugs and the shooting of rivals.

After a trial lasting more than 15 weeks the music finally stopped at Nottingham Crown Court on Thursday and Friday last week when Chand and six other men were convicted of multiple drugs and weapons offences.

The following 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.

They are:

  • Akeem Chand, 27, formerly of Melbourne Road, Aspley;
  • Orlando Escoffery, 26, formerly of Fenton Road, Basford;
  • Quarnell Simpson, 23, formerly of Nuthall Road, Aspley;
  • Devante Neufville, 24, of no fixed address;
  • Kiefer Smith, 28, formerly of Dallman Close, Hucknall;
  • Alexsandro Woolery, 27, formerly of Portland Road, Carlton;

Each of them had previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply class A and class B drugs.

Ravan Mather-Simpson, 25, formerly of Mansfield Road, Nottingham, also pleaded guilty before the trial to conspiracy to supply class A and class B drugs.

All will be sentenced on Monday 25 October.

Details are being released today after an additional legal hearing on Wednesday.

Another woman, Sarah Aplin, 27, of Wyton Close, Bestwood, had previously admitted to a charge of allowing a premises to used for the supply of controlled drug. She will be sentenced on the same date.

The Gang

Akeem Chand was the undisputed leader of a gang who 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 dealers 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 safe houses were also used to store an array of firearms, which would later be used in a mutually damaging tit-for-tat turf war with a rival gang. One of the locations, a property in Bestwood, was even used as a back-drop 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. Chand was ultimately arrested for this offence.

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 struck the victim in the neck.

Showing a brazen disregard for the safety of members of the public, Chand then discharged two more shots as his victim sped from the scene in panic. Unbeknown to him part of the 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 listening device was deployed to monitor conversations in Chand’s car – a modest Seat he routinely conducted his illicit operations from.

For several days the device recorded Chand and his associates conducting multiple drug deals, including discussing the best wording for a text message advertisement they were planning to send out to tout their illegal wares to their very many customers.

Crucially the gang were heard plotting their revenge. A shooting would be later 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 motorcycle. Two men on a motorcycle eventually fired four shots at the building – shattering two windows and leaving bullets lodged 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.

The verdicts have vindicated that approach.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Bull, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “This was a very dangerous gang whose members 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 discreetly – choosing instead to brag on social media posts about just how much of it they spending. It was, however, their ready use of violence that led to their undoing.

“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 prosecute them.

“Our subsequent covert investigation unearthed a treasure trove of damning evidence that has ultimately led to the men’s convictions. We should be under no illusions that these are very dangerous men who thought nothing of discharging firearms in residential streets. I would like to pay tribute to the witnesses that came forward and the dedicated detectives who helped to bring them to justice.

“I want to reassure the public that the use of firearms remains extremely rare. These convictions show that we will use all investigative means at our disposal to pursue those responsible for their use and put them before the courts.”

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