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East Midlands drugs gang who sold by text message jailed for 86 years

A gang of 16 men who sold cocaine via text message have been jailed for more than 86 years.

Operating out of addresses in Leicester city centre, the group operated three mobile phone numbers which allowed members of the public to buy drugs. Both were monitored by an ‘operator’ who would be a direct point of contact with the buyer.

The operator would then contact a ‘courier’ – who was using a different number – who would then meet the buyer, hand over the cocaine and collect the cash.

However, the group’s criminal activity – between October 2019 and January 2021 – was uncovered following a comprehensive investigation by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU).

EMSOU is a collaborative unit of officers and staff from Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire police forces tackling the most serious, organised and violent crime, countering terrorism and extremism and providing forensic services on behalf of the region.

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It is estimated that the group received just under £2m dealing drugs in this 16-month period.

During the case, more than £74,000 was seized by the police.  Forfeiture orders have been made for the full £74,000.

The group, who are all of no fixed abode, previously appeared at court where they admitted their crimes.

Sentencing took place both yesterday and today (Wednesday 1 March) at Leicester Crown Court. They are:

  • Besfort Agaj, 30, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply a class A drug – cocaine, was sentenced to eight years
  • Liridon Agaj, 28, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply class A drugs – cocaine and one count of possession of an identity document with improper intention, was sentenced to five-and-a-half years
  • Elvi Bajrami, 36, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply a class A drug – cocaine, was sentenced to six years and eight months
  • Erlind Bashukaj, 28, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to one count of conspiracy to supply a class A drug – cocaine and one count of possession of an identity document with improper intention, was sentenced to four years and eight months years
  • Bledar Cakraj, 26, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply a class A drug – cocaine and one count of possession of an identity document with improper intention, was sentenced to four years
  • Elidon Dega, 26, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply a class A drug – cocaine, was sentenced to four years and months
  • Bekim Gjongecaj, 25, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply a class A drug – cocaine, was sentenced to four years and 2 months
  • Bujar Hykaj, 30, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply a class A drug – cocaine and two counts of possession of an identity document with improper intention, was sentenced to six years and eight months
  • Erdilant Kucana, 28, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply a class A drug – cocaine, was sentenced to four years and two months
  • Eraml Kucana, 21, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply a class A drug – cocaine, was sentenced to four years and eight months
  • Kismet Memia, 35, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply a class A drug – cocaine, was sentenced to six years and eight months
  • Fatjom Memia, 32, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply a class A drug – cocaine, was sentenced to four years and eight months
  • Arland Rexhat, 27, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply a class A drug – cocaine, was sentenced to six years and eight months years
  • Ervin Sinani, 34, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply a class A drug – cocaine, was sentenced to four years and two months
  • Shkelzen Sokolaj, 51, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply a class A drug – cocaine and cone count of possession of an identity document with improper intention, was sentenced to six years and eight months
  • Andi Sula, 36, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply a class A drug – cocaine, was sentenced to four years and eight months

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Detective Sergeant Lindsay O’Nion, from EMSOU, said: “This group were running a very thorough and complex operation to supply drugs across Leicester.

“Their approach – using numerous different mobile phone numbers – was developed in the belief it would make it difficult for police to identify them and bring them to justice. However, as a result of a very long, detailed and thorough investigation, they’re now serving custodial sentences.

“I hope the public can take some reassurance from this case and know that we will investigate and take action against anyone attempting to bring drugs to the streets of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.”

Detective Supeintendent James Avery added: “The sentencing of this group is the culmination of a thorough and highly professional police investigation which was recognised in court today.

“It represents our determination to identify, catch and convict those who are involved in the supply of drugs and that there is no limit to our reach as Leicestershire Police works collaboratively with colleagues in EMSOU to bring offenders to justice.”

  • A 39-year-old man, also of no fixed abode, was found not guilty of one count of conspiracy to supply a class A drug – cocaine following a trial.

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