Drug ringleader caged for 16 years
PUBLISHED: 07:51 27 November 2014 | UPDATED: 07:51 27 November 2014
A rented unit in Erith was at the centre of the case
The ringleader behind plots to import and supply vast quantities of drugs has been jailed along with five criminal associates.
Stephen Langton, aged 40, of Gews Corner, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, was jailed for 16 years at Maidstone Crown Court on November 25. Langton pleading guilty to conspiracy to import cannabis and conspiracies to supply cocaine, MDMA, cannabis and amphetamine.
Langton paid a transport company £50,000 for a lorry to transport 75 kilos of cannabis from Greece to the United Kingdom in July 2012. Two of his criminal associates, Paul Oliver, aged 36-years-old, of Crooked Mile, Waltham Abbey, and Arjan Lamaj, aged 32-years-old, of Bolbeck Park, Milton Keynes, were responsible for logistics and communicating with suppliers in Albania and Greece.
Working closely with the Hellenic Police in Greece, National Crime Agency investigators were able to conduct operational activity in Greece and monitor the transportation of the drugs.
Unaware the NCA had them under surveillance, Lamaj, who is currently serving 22 years for previous heroin offences, arranged for the cannabis to be taken to a safe house in Northamptonshire. The police searched the premises and recovered the cannabis, six kilos of heroin, a cannabis cultivation unit and over £50,000 in cash.
Analysis of telephone call data proved Langton was in communication with Oliver and Lamaj during the relevant times.
Further analysis of the call data also evidenced Langton’s involvement in the supply of cannabis, cocaine, MDMA and amphetamine. This was investigated by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate with support from the NCA.
Officers from Kent Police seized 415 cannabis plants during a raid at a rented unit on the Darent Industrial Park in Erith, near Dartford, on April 30 2013. A Vauxhall Astra van was also recovered which had a concealed compartment containing packs of amphetamine, blocks of cannabis resin, four bags of cocaine and 7,824 ecstasy tablets.
Two more vans, which had left the unit earlier that day, were stopped on the northbound M6. Officers found 81 packages of skunk cannabis in a Vauxhall Vivaro, plus 18 packages of cocaine and 14 packages of cannabis resin in a Ford Transit.
Officers arrested three of Langton’s criminal associates - Michael Russell, aged 39-years-old, of Widgeon Road, Erith, Billy Mills, aged 34-years-old, of Oakdene Avenue, Chislehurst, and Scott Baker, aged 25-years-old, of Betsham Road, Erith.
Langton himself was arrested in Malaga on a European Arrest Warrant and extradited back to the UK.
Detective Inspector Rob Haines, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “This was a significant drugs supply operation dealing in vast quantities of illegal substances and money.
“Both the Kent investigation and the joint national and international investigation have made significant seizures and have undoubtedly had a disruptive impact on the drugs supply network. The key here is a large amount of illegal drugs destined for the streets of Kent and further afield have been taken away and destroyed.”
All five of Langton’s criminal associates were also sentenced on November 25 at Maidstone Crown Court.
Oliver and Lamaj received eight years and six years respectively after pleading guilty to conspiracy to import cannabis.
Mills was jailed for 12 years, Baker was sentenced to nine years and Russell received eight years. The trio had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracies to supply class A and class B drugs. Baker also pleaded guilty production of cannabis.
The joint investigations, which also involved officers from the Hellenic Police, Hertfordshire Constabulary, Northamptonshire Police and Police Scotland, have resulted in the recovery of 50 kilos of class A drugs and 200 kilos of class B drugs, with a total value of approximately £8 million, as well as £275,000 cash.