Long sentences for drugs gang

A GANG of London criminals who ran a lucrative drug dealing operation from an Ipswich flat are today starting jail terms totalling more than 25 years. The six members of the James Business threatened security staff and the detective who led the investigation after receiving their sentences at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday.

A GANG of London criminals who ran a lucrative drug dealing operation from an Ipswich flat are today starting jail terms totalling more than 25 years.

The six members of the James Business threatened security staff and the detective who led the investigation after receiving their sentences at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday.

The gang - the majority of whom have violent criminal histories - set up their base above an antiques shop in St Margaret's Green.

They used the flat to cut, weigh and package heroin and crack cocaine ready for distribution to street dealers, who in turn peddled the drugs to addicts in the town.


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Drugs cops in Ipswich - who launched a crackdown on London dealers touting their wares in Suffolk more than two years ago - first became aware of the James Business after spotting two of the group supplying heroin to a drug user in autumn 2008.

A covert investigation - Operation Candour - was subsequently launched which quickly uncovered the gang's base and the identity of its members.

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Robert O'Sullivan, prosecuting, said surveillance also captured the defendants reaching through a skylight to hide and fetch a stash of drugs concealed under roof tiles.

Detectives began making arrests in November, snaring two of the gang in a car with drugs, several hundred pounds in cash and four mobile phones, one of which was the number known to police as the James Business' line.

The phone was analysed by an expert who discovered more than 100 text messages from the gang offering drugs to various customers along with a handful of replies.

An extensive search of the flat found crack cocaine with a street value of �1,280, cocaine with a street value of �1,486 and heroin with a street value of �174. Weighing scales and several hundred pounds in cash were also seized.

Police believe the gang's king pin was Wesley Allen, 24, of Queen's Grove Road, Chingford. He lived at the flat after taking out a tenancy agreement on October 1, signing the lease as Leon Henry.

The other members of the gang were Kevin Okorah, 24, of London, Andrew Shirley, 24, of Maple Close, London, Nixon Apire, 24, of Tottenham Green, London, Jon Mullan, 25, of London Road, Ipswich, and Shabaz Masih, 21, of Park Lane, London.

Today, the landlord of the St Margaret's Green flat, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “Their references checked out and they seemed like nice guys.”

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The sentences:

Kevin Okorah - 56 months (Possession of crack cocaine with intent to supply, concerned in supply of heroin)

Wesley Allen - 56 months (Allowing premises to be used for use of heroin, conspiracy to supply class A drugs)

Andrew Shirley - 56 months (Possession with intent to supply heroin, concerned in supply of heroin)

Nixon Apire - 56 months (Concerned in supply of heroin)

Jon Mullan - 30 months (supply of heroin)

Shabaz Masih - 50 months (Supply of heroin, plus two charges, burglary and aggravated vehicle taking, in relation to another matter)

ONE of the detectives who led Operation Candour today vowed police would not tolerate London dealers peddling drugs in Ipswich.

Detective constable Simon Carpenter - who was threatened in court by one of the James Business gang after the sentencing hearing - said: “This case shows the drugs team can deal with more than just street runners.

“We are not a soft target. The figures from Operation Academy (the police crackdown on London dealers in Ipswich) show the large numbers of people arrested and the drugs we have seized.

“I'm sure the message goes back to London.”

Dc Carpenter said he was pleased with the jail terms handed down to the gang.

“I'm happy with the sentences but if it had been any less I would have been disappointed.”

He said it had not been long before the new drug dealing business in town had come to the attention of police.

Dc Carpenter said: “We quickly became aware of the James Business and it was apparent they were using 22 St Margaret's Green, a flat above an antiques shop.

“We launched a covert operation where we watched the flat and saw the comings and goings. It took over a month between finding out about the business and making arrests.

“We would say Allen is the main man because he has not been arrested with drugs on him. People high up don't tend to carry the drugs or the money.

“The case was the most in-depth we have carried out in the last couple of years, with the most people charged in one go.”

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