Eleven men who ran a major drugs operation worth £1.5 million annually from their Dartford and Gravesend homes have been jailed for over 65 years collectively.
The county lines drugs gang were taken down by police after more than 85 individual events, vehicle stops and raids, with video footage being released of one such raid on a house where the drug dealers were staying.
The dealers were making £1.5 million a year selling cocaine in Southend, forming part of the self-styled ‘Dave’ county line group.
Eight offenders pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply cocaine, but three denied the offence and were found guilty at a Woolwich Crown Court trial which concluded in March and saw them sentenced last week.
Jetmir Cenaj, 21, of Spring Vale North, Dartford, was given the largest prison sentence of 12 years and six months, whilst Aretur Gashi, 30, of College Road, Gravesend, was sentenced to 10 years and six months.
A further nine people were sentenced to jail time, including a 17-year-old boy, whilst two other men from Gravesend are awaiting trial after having been charged with supplying cocaine.
Detective Constable William Looker, Kent Police’s investigating officer for the case, said the offenders were involved in a “sophisticated plot” supplying cocaine across Southend.
“They saw the misery caused from drug abuse as a means to make money and their successful prosecution means that 11 organised and unscrupulous offenders are facing a substantial amount of time in custody.
Along with help from Essex Police, he said: “Despite being involved in a well organised pattern of offending, we were able to painstakingly piece together evidence from small snippets of information and build a solid case to present to the courts.”
Kent Police say the county line was known to have been in operation between February 17 and August 21, 2019, using a single phone number to talk to customers using a person named ‘Dave’ registered at an address in Southend.
The name was thought to be fake, instead controlled by Jetmir Cenaj and Aretur Gashi who based themselves at three different addresses in Gravesend and a house in Dartford.
The phone typically sent or received more than 750 calls or texts a day, and once a message was received on the main number, a different phone would be used to send instructions to offenders based in Southend who were acting as couriers.
Police gathered evidence of the gang during 85 individual events, including vehicle stops and search warrants, as well as data analysed from CCTV cameras and records from over 25 phones.
One of the most noteworthy incidents saw 80 wraps of cocaine seized at an address in Southend in February 2019.
Nearly £7,000 in cash was seized from a car on the London-bound A13 stopped by police, and another vehicle stop along the Southend seafront saw cocaine, phone and two of the gang taken into custody.
Detectives were also able to estimate that the offenders made £607,000 between March and August 2019. Expanding these figures gives the line an annual turnover in excess of £1.5 million.
On August 21 last year, the county line was brought to a stop following eight raids across North Kent, south London and Essex.
The day of action saw half a kilo of cocaine seized and three arrested at an address in Humber Road, Dartford, and fifty wraps and one arrest at an address in Optical Court in Gravesend.
Full list of offenders
Unless otherwise stated, the following offenders pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply cocaine.
- Jetmir Cenaj, 21, of Spring Vale North, Dartford, was sentenced to 12 years and six months.
- Aretur Gashi, 30, of College Road, Gravesend, was sentenced to 10 years and six months.
- Elidon Haxhaij, 22, of Fulwell Park Avenue, Twickenham, was sentenced to 10 years.
- Mohammed Rashid, 27, of Ingestre Road, Kentish Town, was sentenced to nine years. He previously pleaded not guilty.
- A 17-year-old boy of no fixed address was sentenced to three years. He previously pleaded not guilty.
- Sali Veshi, 26, of Roberts Road, Walthamstow, was sentenced to six years. He previously pleaded not guilty.
- Timothy Challis, 47, of Burdett Avenue, Westcliff-on-Sea, was sentenced to four years and eight months.
- Edison Shahu, 28, of Longbridge Road, Barking, was sentenced to four years and eight months.
- Albes Tocilla, 24, of Harts Lane, Barking, was sentenced to four years and eight months.
- Nathan Ndaba, 20, of Stromness Road, Southend, was sentenced to two years and eight months.
- Raymond Healy, 33, of Grand Drive, Leigh-on-Sea, was sentenced to one year and two months.
Mario Abbate, 27, of Old Road West, Gravesend and Zenel Byberi, 25, of Old Road West, Gravesend, have also been charged with conspiring to supply cocaine and are due to stand trial in October 2020.