Eight men admit involvement in drugs gang


The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Devon and Cornwall Constabulary announced today that eight men from the Exeter area have admitted being involved in a large-scale drugs supply ring.

Shaun Pepperell, Jason Hutchings, Neil Western and Matthew Mingo were arrested as part of a two-year operation run by Devon and Cornwall Constabularys Serious Organised Crime Investigation Team [SOCIT]. They, together with Gavin Squires, Patrick Hurley, Christopher Land and Joshua Sprague originally pleaded not guilty but changed their pleas owing to the strength of the evidence against them .  The defendants were due to face a six-week trial at Exeter Crown Court but admitted charges relating to the supply of cocaine and cannabis and money laundering before the trial got underway. The offences occurred between January 2007 and March 2009.

They will be sentenced in early July.

The Police investigation was supported from its inception by the CPS Complex Casework Unit South West, based in Bristol.  This Unit provided charging advice and ensured the case, involving complex evidence relating to use of mobile phones and movement of courier vehicles across southern England, accurately reflected the level of criminality and involvement of each of the defendants charged.

At a hearing at Exeter Crown Court on Tuesday 25 May, Prosecutor Ian Glen QC said the Crowns case showed that:  Mr Pepperell was a major drugs dealer and that all the others were delivery drivers, motivated by money.

After the hearing, Detective Sergeant Wes Snell, who is leading the SOCIT investigation team said: Our investigation into these offences, involving the transportation of drugs into Exeter and other parts of the South West, has been ongoing for two years. At this stage police are unable to say how much money was involved, but it was a large-scale conspiracy.