Organised crime gang gets 63 and a half years imprisonment

29/02/2012

A large scale investigation by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit, in to the supply of Benzocaine, a known cutting agent, has resulted in eight people being imprisoned for a total of 63 and a half years.

The investigation, code named Operation Berwick, which ran throughout Bedfordshire and in to Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire was finally completed on Tuesday, 28 February 2012 when the two remaining defendants were sentenced at Luton Crown Court.

Yasir Akhtar, aged 30, of  Westlecote Garden, Luton was sentenced to 12-years for conspiracy to supply a class A drug and 12-months, to be served concurrently, for converting criminal property.

Rajwant Syan, aged 32, of Avenue Grimaldi was sentenced to 7-years for conspiracy to supply a class A drug and 9-months, to be served concurrently, for converting criminal property.

Both were arrested following the discovery of 1.65kg of Cocaine and 22kg of Benzocaine in a cutting factory in Luton on 19 January 2011.

Syan had already pleaded guilty and on 24 February 2012 Akhtar was found guilty following a trial at Luton Crown Court.

These sentences followed the imprisonment of other members of the crime ring including Luton man, Mark Watling, aged 39, of Chesford Road, who had pleaded guilty to six counts of encouraging or assisting in the supply of class A drugs between 05 June and 18 June 2010.

Watling was sentenced to 13-years imprisonment on 01 February 2012 at Luton Crown Court after the court heard he had imported six barrels of Benzocaine, weighing a total of 150kg, from China.

It was reported that Watling had set up a business called Buffalo Global to import chemicals, saying it was to be sold on to legitimate businesses such as Tattoo parlours that used Benzocaine to numb pain. However, the street value of cocaine diluted by the 150kg found would have had a street value of between £9 million and £13 and a half million.

It was the finding of six cocaine factories in Luton and Huntingdon that led to the arrest of Watling and subsequent arrests and charges of a further eight people.

Confiscation hearings are due to be held at later dates.

Other convictions in connection with Operation Berwick include:

Mark DEAR, aged 42, of Surrey Road, Cambridgeshire was arrested on the 19 May 2010 after being found in possession of 704.81 grams of Cocaine and 23.6kg of Benzocaine.  He was convicted following a guilty plea at Cambridge Crown Court and sentenced to 4.5-years for possession with intent to supply.

Philip MARTIN, aged 46, of Gresham Close, Luton was arrested on the 04 August 2010 after being found in possession of 30 grams of cocaine and 9.65kg of Benzocaine.  He was convicted following a guilty plea at Luton Crown Court and received a supervision order, 180 hours of unpaid work and £85 costs for possession of class A.

Gary LLOYD, aged 30, was arrested on the 25 June 2010 after being found in possession of 24kg of Benzocaine.  He was convicted following a guilty plea at Luton Crown Court and sentenced to 4-years for encouraging/assisting in the supply of class A.

Craig McKoy, aged 24, of Leathwaite Close, Luton was arrested on the 19 January 2011 following the discovery of 645 grams of cocaine and 24kg of Benzocaine in a cutting factory. On Thursday, 7 July McKoy was found guilty following a trial at Luton Crown Court and sentenced to 6-years for conspiracy to supply class A and possession with intent to supply amphetamine.

Peter CALVANO, aged 30, of Hillcroft Close, Luton and Peter LAZERENKO, aged 29, of Rowelfield, Luton were arrested on the 19 January 2011 following the discovery of 360 grams of cocaine and 24kg of Benzocaine.  LAZERENKO pleaded guilty and CALVANO was found guilty following trial.  On the 24 November 2011 LAZERENKO was sentenced to 7.5-years for conspiracy to supply class A and 2-years concurrent for possession of criminal property. CALVANO was sentenced to 9.5-years for conspiracy to supply class A.