Bristol drugs gang jailed for £4.5 million cocaine conspiracy

The four men have been jailed for 56 years between them
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An organised crime group that supplied more than 130 kilos of cocaine valued at £4.5m across the South West has been jailed for 56 years.

The four men, all from Bristol and Portishead, were sentenced at Winchester Crown Court on Friday (March 15) for their roles in the conspiracy. 

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Their arrests followed work as part of Operation Venetic, the UK response to the takedown of Encrochat, an encrypted messaging service that was used by criminals worldwide. 

Kai Williams, 38, from Coombe Dingle in Bristol was sentenced to 18 years after pleading guilty earlier this month to conspiracy to supply 130 kilos of cocaine. 

He acted as a class A drugs broker for the crime syndicate. His black Mercedes, which had a lock knife concealed in the boot, as well as jewellery, designer clothing and trainers, a bottle of Cristal Champagne and a holdall containing £4,000 cash were all seized as evidence to show the lifestyle he led.

Luther Takawira, 28, from Portishead and friends James Cox, 34, and Benjamin Fry, 34, who were both from Shirehampton in Bristol, were all convicted by a jury on March 11 of conspiring to supply cocaine. 

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Takawira was sentenced to 15 years, Cox to 12 years and Fry to 11 years. Takawira and Cox were also convicted of transferring criminal property, namely hundreds of thousands of pounds of cash. Cox had £32,000 stored in a safe at his house.

Detective Inspector Adrian Hawkins who led the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU) investigation said: “This organised crime group was dealing in multi kilo quantities of cocaine, with Cox collecting 20 kilos on single trip to Slough and his friend Fry bringing 30 kilos back from West Bromwich on another.  

“Those drugs were then delivered onwards across our region – including Portsmouth, Trowbridge, Bristol and Bridgwater - making the group hundreds of thousands of pounds to fund lifestyles that no doubt couldn’t be more different to those of many of the users they supplied.” 

He added: “This group has caused untold harm to the communities across our region whilst they lived comfortably from the proceeds of those crimes. 

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“The sentences handed down reflect this and act as a warning that we continue to use all our specialist capabilities to pursue those involved.”

Handwritten notes were used as evidence against the menHandwritten notes were used as evidence against the men
Handwritten notes were used as evidence against the men

Teams from SWROCU spent months reviewing hundreds of thousands of messages to identify the roles and activities of the criminal network operating in the region. 

They helped decode and present the contents of these messages – which the criminals had thought were protected on the EncroChat messaging service – to the court. 

When combined with handwritten logs at Takawira and Cox’s homes detailing cash and cocaine deliveries, the extent of their conspiracy became clear.

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