Wednesday 19 January 2022
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Nottingham

Members of gun-toting Nottingham drugs gang jailed

Two members of a gun-toting drugs gang have been jailed – thanks to a major police investigation sparked by a series of tit-for-tat shootings.

Alexsandro Woolery and Kiefer Smith were part of a gang that 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 the county.

The gang, whose members spent large sums of money on designer clothing and jewellery, came to police attention after a series of linked shootings in early 2019.

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.

Chand and four other men were jailed in October for a total of more than 80 years for their part in the conspiracy, which was exposed in part by a covert listening device placed in a car used by the gang.

Just months before they were arrested, members of the gang enjoyed a luxury break to Mexico’s Caribbean coast, where they stayed in a private villa and even hired a motor yacht.

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Both locations were used to film a professionally produced drill music video which was later published on the internet. In it the men bragged about the amount of money they were making from their illegal activities.

Woolery, 28, and Smith, 28, 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 class B drugs.

Appearing at Nottingham Crown Court today (Wednesday) the pair were sentenced.

Woolery, formerly of Portland Road, Carlton, was jailed for 22 years and will have to spend a further five years on extended licence,

Kiefer Smith, 28, formerly of Dallman Close, Hucknall, was jailed for 17 years.

The Gang

Akeem Chand was the undisputed leader of the 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.

Chand, who fired a .44 calibre pistol at a rival drug dealer in a residential street, was jailed for life at a hearing in October.

Orlando Escoffery, 26, formerly of Fenton Road, Basford, was jailed for 23 years.

Quarnell Simpson, 24, formerly of Nuthall Road, Aspley, was jailed for 20 years.

Devante Neufville, 24, of no fixed address, was jailed for 20 years.

Each of them had been found guilty of the firearms offences and had also previously admitted to the drugs offences.

Another gang member, Ravan Mather-Simpson, 25, formerly of Mansfield Road, Sherwood, pleaded guilty before the trial to conspiracy to supply class A and class B drugs. He was sentenced to nine years and was also jailed for a further 16 months for separate incident of affray.

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 was jailed for two years and three months.

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.

On 9 May 2019 Chand and Simpson were caught on camera carrying out a shooting in Brindley Road, Bilborough – a hastily arranged ambush that followed a chance encounter with a rival gang member.

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. Detectives later retrieved audio of Chand and his associates conducting multiple drug deals and even discussing the shooting of a rival.

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

Detectives now 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.

Although they 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 Chief Inspector Richard Bull, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Woolery and Smith were part of an extremely dangerous gang whose members thought nothing of firing lethal weapons in the street. At the time of their arrest the gang’s behaviour was becoming more and more extreme and it really was a matter of good fortune that nobody was killed or seriously injured during these incidents.

“The men were making very large sums of money as a result of their offending, but ultimately fell into the same trap as other organised criminals. The more they had the more they stood to lose to rival gangs. This paranoia led them to participate in the utterly brazen acts of violence that ultimately led to their downfall.

“I would like to repeat my thanks to the witnesses that came forward and also extend my thanks to all the detectives who worked so hard on this case. Locking up a gang like this takes hundreds of hours of meticulous police work and everybody involved should be very proud of what they achieved here.

“Finally I hope this case serves as a warning to other violent criminals: if you discharge firearms on our streets we will deploy whatever resources are necessary to find you, prosecute you and put you behind bars.”

 

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