26 accused of plot to supply £2.5m of cocaine

Operation Vanguard raids in Cambridgeshire
Operation Vanguard raids in Cambridgeshire

Twenty-six suspected drug dealers arrested in a series of early-morning swoops across the country were allegedly involved in a multi-million pound operation wholesaling up to £2.5 million of high-purity cocaine.

Two dozen defendants, aged between 29 and 49, including two women, appeared in court on Friday charged with an organised conspiracy to supply class A drugs in Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Hampshire between January 2010 and April 2012.

They were allegedly involved in a plot to supply 52 kilos of cocaine, with a wholesale value of almost £2.5 million, at £45,000 per kilo.

The 24 defendants, who are on bail, appeared at Northampton Crown Court in three separate hearings as they could not all fit into one dock.

Michael Wilson 28, and Benjamin Ukaegbu, 31, who are currently remanded in custody, were not produced for the hearings.

The 26 defendants, who have not yet entered pleas to the charges, were arrested in a series of raids in December last year and April.

More than 150 police officers were involved in the two-year operation target the supply and wholesale supply of high purity cocaine.

Officers raided 16 addresses in Northamptonshire as part of one of the largest operations of its kind ever seen in the county.

As well as making arrests, officers seized a firearm and three cars as part of the long-term investigation.

Adjourning the case and granting conditional bail, Judge Rupert Mayo said: “What I propose to do in this matter is to list a further preliminary hearing in March. The reason for that is twofold. There is still a great deal of material still to be served on the defence by the prosecution.

“Usually the statute allows a judge to give credit of 33 per cent for pleading guilty to anybody who does plead guilty at the first possible opportunity. However, in this case I am prepared to indicate that anybody who indicates the intention to plead guilty to this matter will receive not just 33 per cent credit that they would have got for pleading guilty but extra credit as well.

“That’s for two reasons. It denotes an indication somebody has admitted committing a crime without knowing the precise case against them. The second reason is less important and it is this – an indication of a guilty plea will save a great deal of public money at a time when resources are tight.”

The following people have been charged in connection with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs:

Joseph O’Neill, 35, Brockton Street, Kingsthorpe, Northampton; Steven Payne, 44, of Weedon Road, Nether Heyford; Adrian Dowling, 47, of Stowe Walk, Northampton; Sean Byrne, 47, of Queens Road, Northampton; Daniel Shrubb, Henry Bird Way, Southbridge, Northampton; John Monteith, 26, of Wallbeck Close, Kingsthorpe, Northampton; Abdul Khan, 24, of Cowper Street, Northampton; Michael Wilson, 28, of no fixed address; Matthew McLeod, 22, of Poplar Road, Kettering; Thomas O’Brien, 29, of Bugbrooke Road, Kislingbury; Barry Toghill, 27, of Morley Walk, Corby; Christopher Jones, 24, of West Cotton Close, Far Cotton, Northampton; Micha Walfall, 28, of Leys Road, Pattishall, Towcester; Kevin Leighton, 33, of Hornby Road, Earls Barton, Northampton; Daniel Beasley, 30, of The Square, Earls Barton, Northampton; Trevor Hill, 30, of Lowick Court, Moulton Leys, Northampton; Benjamin Ukaegbu, 31, of no fixed address; Thomas Goff, 29, of Northam Road, Southampton; Daniel Taylor, 29, of Dakota Way, Eastleigh, Hampshire; Mark Sims, 49, of St Catherine’s Road, Southampton; Daryl Sims, 29, The Gardens, Bishop Waltham, Southampton; Paul Hatcher, 32, of Lockerley Crescent, Southampton; Charmaine Calloway, 400, of Evenlode Road, Southampton; Jane Calloway, 53, of Northam Road, Southampton; Craig Cummerson, 28, of Quayside Road, Southampton; Cyrus Kazak, 48, of Woodpecker Way, Waterbeach, Cambridge.