Jailed: Members of 'sophisticated' drugs crime gang sentenced

An organised crime group were involved in the wholesale supply of cocaine, heroin, and cannabis through west Essex and London

Six members from an organised crime group were involved in the wholesale supply of cocaine, heroin, and cannabis through west Essex and London - Credit: Essex Police

Members of an organised crime group have been jailed after moving multiple kilos of cocaine and millions in cash through London and west Essex. 

The six members - four from Islington, one from Leytonstone and another from Essex - pleaded guilty to a range of drugs offences at Chelmsford Crown Court on December 17 last year.

An investigation into the group began in May 2021 following information garnered from Op Venetic, a major police operation tasked with cracking a bespoke encrypted global communication service used by criminals. 

The group laundered millions of pounds in cash

The group laundered millions of pounds in cash - Credit: Essex Police

The communication service, EncroChat, offered secure instant messaging. It had 60,000 users worldwide, with around 10,000 in the UK. 

Essex Police says it was primarily used by criminals dealing in illicit commodities such as drugs and money laundering. 

Last year, agencies in France and Netherlands infiltrated the platform, having been investigating it since 2016. 

Information was then shared via Europol to national law enforcement agencies.

The group were involved in the distribution of Class A and B drugs

The group were involved in the distribution of Class A and B drugs - Credit: Essex Police

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Essex Police used intercepted EncroChat messages to identify a group involved in the wholesale supply of cocaine, heroin and cannabis.

The group also laundered millions of pounds in cash.

Five of its members were sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court last Thursday (May 5). 

They include Joe Stokes, of Joseph Trotter Close in Clerkenwell, who was jailed for ten years.

The 23-year-old had pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply Class A and B drugs, as well as conspiring to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer or remove criminal property. 

Joseph Stokes, 29, of Joseph Trotter Close in Clerkenwell

Joseph Stokes, 29, of Joseph Trotter Close in Clerkenwell - Credit: Essex Police

William Jayes, 25, of Percy Circus in Pentonville, was responsible for cutting and diluting drugs prior to distribution. 

William Jayes, 25, of Percy Circus in Pentonville

William Jayes, 25, of Percy Circus in Pentonville - Credit: Essex Police

He pleaded guilty to the same offences as Stokes and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. 

Jane Daly, Alfie Mainstone, Dylan Williams and Patrick Cobb were couriers for the group.

Jane Daly, 57, of Dingley Road in Islington

Jane Daly, 57, of Dingley Road in Islington - Credit: Essex Police

Daly, 57, of Dingley Road in Islington, was jailed for six years and 221 days.

Mainstone, 23, of Prentice Place in Harlow, was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. 

Alfie Mainstone, 23, of Prentice Place in Harlow, Essex

Alfie Mainstone, 23, of Prentice Place in Harlow, Essex - Credit: Essex Police

Williams, 29, of Fieldway Crescent in Islington, was handed a 18-month jail term, suspended for two years. 

And Cobb, 53, of Forest Road in Leytonstone, will be sentenced at the same court on June 29.

Acting Det Insp David Crane, from Essex Police's serious and organised crime unit, said the "sophisticated group" has been responsible for "polluting our towns with cocaine and heroin".