Drug dealer bound by 'blood revenge' caught with £100k of cocaine and cash

Lirim Hoxha

Lirim Hoxha was arrested by officers from Suffolk Constabulary's Operation Sentinel team on patrol in Ipswich - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

An illegally trafficked Albanian national has been jailed for three years after being caught in Ipswich with cocaine worth £63,000 and almost £37,000 in cash.

Lirim Hoxha was stopped and searched near his address in Harland Street, Ipswich, at about midday on Wednesday, March 17, and found in possession of four socks containing between 30 and 40 plastic vials – each containing half a gram of cocaine.

A search of his room at a property in the same road turned up two quarter-kilo blocks of cocaine worth between £25,000 and £30,000.

Officers also found £36,795.10 divided into envelopes marked with individual dates, including one containing £9,580 and another containing £6,050.

During a sentencing hearing at Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday, prosecuting barrister Hugh Vass said: "If he was not acting alone, and we accept he wasn't, he must have, at the very least, been a trusted lieutenant within the organisation."

In total, Mr Vass said police seized 628.77g of cocaine worth £20,000 to £25,000 – or potentially £62,900 on the street.

Hoxha, 28, admitted being concerned in the supply of class A drugs and possession of criminal property at an earlier hearing on April 14.

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Stephen Rose, mitigating, said Hoxha had been studying for a degree before being trafficked to the UK, where he was "scraping together what he could" to send home to his mother and had been working on a car wash in London until the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Mr Rose said Hoxha "reluctantly, and with some shame" accepted an approach to become concerned in the supply of drugs in Ipswich for about four weeks until his arrest.

He said Hoxha was instantly placed under a sense of cultural obligation, meticulously accounting for the drugs and cash, in accordance with the Albanian ancestral code of 'kanun', which he likened to a 'blood revenge' code, adopted by the mafia.

"If he failed to account for the money in the way he was required to, there would be retribution against his mother back in Albania," added Mr Rose, who said Hoxha used any money earned from the sale of drugs to either pay off rent arrears or send home.

Judge Rupert Overbury said Hoxha may have been subject to manipulation by others, but was an intelligent man who knew exactly what he was getting into.

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