Eight drug traffickers, seven of whom are from Nottinghamshire, have been jailed for a total of almost 50 years at Nottingham Crown Court.
The men are all said to be criminal associates of alleged international drug trafficker Robert Dawes, who is originally from Sutton.
Dawes is currently in France, awaiting trial, after being arrested at his villa in Benalmadena in the Costa del Sol in November 2015.
Rob Hickinbottom, NCA Regional Commander for the Midlands, said: “Collaborative working with law enforcement agencies here and overseas led to the arrest of Robert Dawes who we believe is a major international drug trafficker.
“We have successfully targeted his criminal associates in the UK involved in drug trafficking and money laundering but our work does not stop here. Our investigation is ongoing and further arrests and prosecutions are planned.”
A National Crime Agency investigation into the men began when 1.3 tonnes of cocaine were seized in September 2013, hidden in suitcases on an Air France flight from Venezuela’s capital Caracas to Paris.
NCA officers worked with the French OCRTIS and other international law enforcement agencies to identify the crime group behind the shipment, suspecting it had been arranged by Robert Dawes, who is originally from Nottinghamshire.
Evidence led to his arrest in November 2015 by the Guardia Civil at his villa in Benalmadena on the Costa del Sol. Dawes was extradited to France where he awaits trial.
A number of individuals had already been arrested by the French authorities straight after the seizure, including Italian nationals from the Naples-based Camorra Mafia and a Nottingham man called Kane Price who was released on bail.
While working closely with the East Midlands Special Operations Unit and Nottinghamshire Police to target Dawes’ criminal associates, NCA officers observed Price, aged 28, receiving a kilo of MDMA on 11 June 2015 from Oliver Junior, aged 36, from Nottingham.
Junior, who in May 2015 had been seen handing a bag containing £2,000 cash to another criminal, was arrested on 26 June. He collected two kilos of amphetamine from a house on Alderman Close in Beeston belonging to 51-year-old Mark Thone. Both men were arrested and officers found 26 and a half kilos of amphetamine in Thone’s freezer.
Officers also searched a garage on Brooke Avenue, Arnold, which was under the control of Junior, and recovered an industrial pill press.
During other surveillance operations officers watched as more of Dawes’ criminal associates were involved in drug and cash exchanges.
Among those arrested were Shaun Porteous, aged 48, from Nottingham, who delivered a kilo of heroin to another Nottingham man, 33-year-old William Goldhawk, on 24 February 2015. When Porteous was later arrested on 17 March, officers found 12 kilos of heroin in his car.
Officers also seized an additional 11 kilos of MDMA and £7,000 cash during the investigation.
At Nottingham Crown Court on Friday (19 February), Goldhawk was sentenced to five and a half years and Porteous received 13 years four months. Two other men, Jermaine Hammond, aged 30, from Nottingham, and Jamie Parlor, aged 28, from Bramcote, were jailed for four years eight months and five years respectively.
At an earlier hearing on 5 February, Junior was sentenced to eight and half years, Price to three and a half years and Thone to three years. Another man, Masued Khalil, aged 50, from Birmingham, received five years four months.
As part of the wider investigation, the NCA shared intelligence with the Portuguese authorities which led to the seizure of 167 kilos of cocaine in July 2014. The drugs were hidden on a yacht called the Gloria of Grenada which had travelled from South America.
Roy Livings, aged 64, a British national living in South America, and Lee Krokoszynski, aged 34, from Nottinghamshire, were both jailed in Portugal for a total of 17 years late last year.