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Regional police detectives tell how they shut down £58m drug ring on Channel 4 show

PUBLISHED: 16:30 09 November 2020 | UPDATED: 14:02 10 November 2020

Ringleader Robert Brooks was jailed for 21 years Picture: ERSOU

Ringleader Robert Brooks was jailed for 21 years Picture: ERSOU

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A £58milllion drug smuggling ring investigated by a regional police squad is the subject of a popular Channel 4 documentary series.

Officers from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), which tackles serious organised crime across Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, and Kent, are currently appearing on 24 Hours in Police Custody.

The second episode of the two-part special – named The Home County Cartel – will air tonight on Channel 4 at 9pm.

The operation, led by ERSOU, marked the biggest ever drugs conspiracy investigation in the unit’s history, and was also the largest drugs case ever in Hertfordshire, with around £4m of drugs recovered.

Between November 2018 and August 2019, it was discovered that 39 deliveries were made to a farm in Hunsdon, Hertfordshire.

Richard Campbell was jailed in September Picture: ERSOURichard Campbell was jailed in September Picture: ERSOU

Two of the deliveries were intercepted by UK and Dutch authorities, with 45 kilograms of heroin and 70kg of cocaine being seized. These drugs had a combined wholesale value of between £3m and £4.2m.

The other 37 deliveries are believed to have contained approximately 350kg of cocaine and 1,485kg of heroin.

Overall, the men are believed to have been behind the importation of almost £60m worth of drugs before their organised criminal network was dismantled by ERSOU and partnering agencies.

MORE: New powers help police seize £200k of Suffolk criminals’ ill-gotten gains

The gang’s ringleader, Robert Brooks, 50, of Mead Lane, Hertford, was jailed in September for 21 years at St Albans Crown Court.

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He had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to fraudulently evade the prohibition on the importation of a controlled drug of Class A, namely heroin and cocaine, and possession of criminal property.

He was supported by Richard Campbell, 49, and Tomasz Wozniak, 29, both of Waterside, Milton Keynes, who both played significant roles in assisting Brooks.

Campbell, who the court heard was Brooks’ right-hand man, received a 13 years and six months prison sentence, having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to fraudulently evade the prohibition on the importation of a controlled drug of Class A, namely heroin and cocaine.

Wozniak pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply a controlled drug of Class A, namely heroin and cocaine. He was jailed for six years and three months.

Stephen Capp, 56, of Old Lodges, Hull, worked as a courier within the organised crime group. He was arrested on the M25 in December 2019, with five kilograms of cocaine being found in his car.

The drugs were hidden in a specialist compartment within his vehicle in order to avoid detection.

He was sentenced to nine years and six months in prison, having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply a controlled drug of Class A, namely heroin and cocaine, and possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.

MORE: Huge haul of drugs, cash and firearms seized after criminal chat network cracked

Speaking in September, Detective Chief Inspector Trevor Davidson, from ERSOU, said: “Drugs blight our communities in all manner of ways, driving offending from burglary and anti-social behaviour through to knife crime and other serious violence.

“Our aim is to focus on the major players involved in drugs supply and remove their ability to profit off the misery of others, working alongside law enforcement partners locally and internationally.

“This was a major partnership operation which we are confident has dismantled an organised criminal network responsible for putting tens of millions of pounds worth of drugs onto our streets.

“This is just the latest in a number of recent successes to take down some very high level criminals. Others looking to line their pockets through the illegal drugs trade should be under no illusion that we will relentlessly pursue them and bring them to justice.”


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