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Six men jailed for conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin

|News, Drug offences

Six men who were part of a commercial drugs operation have each been sentenced to between five and ten years in prison today (26 March 2021).

Between 1 September 2018 and 1 May 2019, this organised crime group, known as “The Essex Boys”, supplied crack cocaine and heroin in Portsmouth. The drugs were purchased in London for onward supply into Hampshire, and drugs seized amounted to a street value estimated at over £270,000.

Lance Burt, 22, Luke Goldsmith, 28, and John Parham, 33, entered guilty pleas to conspiracies to supply crack cocaine and heroin. Liam Whitnell, 37, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, and Jacob James, 27, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply crack cocaine as well as to the possession of over £60,000 of cash from criminal activity. Rayhaan Hoque was found guilty of conspiracies to supply crack cocaine and heroin following a trial at Portsmouth Crown Court which ended on 23 March 2021.

Whitnell was the boss of this criminal enterprise, running operations from his prison cell. Hoque was the London based link to drugs suppliers, and James held a management role over the couriers in the Hampshire area. Parham was a cook who converted cocaine into crack cocaine from his kitchen, whilst Goldsmith and Burt were couriers who made trips to London to collect drugs from Hoque and then return them to Hampshire.

Desmond Duffy, CPS Wessex Senior Crown Prosecutor, said: “We worked with Hampshire Constabulary officers from the outset to build a strong case to prove that these six men were entwined in an organised crime group supplying drugs.

“We used mobile phone data and forensic evidence to prove the roles they had within the group, and the weight of that evidence meant that the majority of them had no choice but to plead guilty to their crimes.

“Drugs have a devastating impact on people and communities, and we will not hesitate to prosecute people who are involved in the supply and distribution of drugs.”

Notes to editors

  • Jack Darvill, 22, also pleaded guilty to conspiracies to supply cocaine and heroin. He will be sentenced on a date to be fixed.
  • Sentences received as follows:
    • Whitnell: 9 years' imprisonment
    • Hoque: 10 years' imprisonment concurrent 
    • James: 7 years' imprisonment concurrent on two conspiracy counts and 6 months imprisonment for possession of criminal property
    • Parham: 6 years' imprisonment
    • Goldsmith: 6 years' imprisonment
    • Burt: 5 years' imprisonment in total (he also entered guilty pleas today to possession with intent to supply crack cocaine, heroin and possession of criminal property (£1,140 cash).

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