Seven are jailed for total of 38 years after drug ring smashed

IPSWICH: Seven men are today beginning jail terms totalling 38 years after undercover officers smashed a major drug ring as part of the biggest operation of its kind in Suffolk.

Four men from Ipswich and three drug dealers from Essex were sentenced at Basildon Crown Court yesterday for a range of offences including supplying cocaine and heroin, as well as firearm charges.

Damian Thomas, who brokered the drug deals, was imprisoned for 11 years.

Thomas, of Demoiselle Crescent, Ipswich, had admitted selling a firearm on February 13, 2009, possession of four rounds of 9mm ammunition on the same date, and possession of seven rounds of 9mm ammunition on February 26, 2009.

The 40-year-old also pleaded guilty to supplying Class A controlled drugs between December 1, 2008 and June 2, 2009, and supplying 123 grams of cocaine.

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Judge Alice Robinson described Thomas as being a prolific supplier who supplied drugs on 14 occasions and protected the main suppliers by acting as a go-between.

Martin Wills, 34, of Roper Court, Foxhall Road, Ipswich, was jailed for five years for supplying Class A drugs on five occasions.

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Richard Burdon, of Tuddenham Road, Ipswich, was also sentenced to five years for selling a firearm on February 13, last year and possession of four rounds of 9mm ammunition.

Julian Hazel, 36, of Regent Road, Brightlingsea, was given five years for supplying Class A drugs. One transaction involved half a kilo of cocaine.

Sean Campbell, 35, of Barrack Street, Colchester, was imprisoned for four years for Class A drugs’ supply.

Two lesser players linked to Thomas were also jailed for selling Class A drugs. Adrian Hawley, 37, of Alnesbourne Crescent, Ipswich, and Michael Keely, 29, of Cotman Road, Clacton, were both given four years.

All the arrests came out of a massive sting operation over the course of 12 months aimed at catching thieves and people handling stolen goods.

After yesterday’s sentencing the man in charge of the operation, Detective Superintendent Chris Mayhew, said: “This is an organised crime group that has been involved in serious offences and we are pleased that the court acknowledged this and sentenced the offenders accordingly.”

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