COCAINE dealers and couriers have been jailed and drugs worth at least £226,000 taken off the streets during a complex police investigation spanning two years.
The organised crime group operated out of Colchester, buying in high purity cocaine from other organised crime groups in London before selling it on to dealers across Essex.
It was headed by Mark Hibble and Steven May and dismantled following an investigation by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, which began in December 2013.
The pair employed others to act as couriers, assisting in collecting and delivering cocaine.
Hibble, 33, was the last of at least ten criminals to be jailed for their involvement in the network, after being traced to Thailand.
The plasterer, of Alan Way, Colchester, left the UK in 2014 but police continued to make enquiries to locate him. He returned voluntarily in January this year and handed himself in to police.
He was arrested and charged with two counts of conspiracy to supply cocaine, which he admitted at Chelmsford Crown Court on Thursday, March 30. He was jailed for nine-and-half-years for one count and eight years for the other, to run concurrently.
Steven May, of Wivenhoe Road, Alresford, was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs following a trial in December 2016.
The 42-year-old company director was jailed for 12 years on December 12.
His brother Terry May, 38, unemployed, of Ottawa Road, Tilbury, admitted two counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. He was jailed for nine years on December 12. He also received an 18 month sentence to run concurrently for possession of criminal property.
Steven May had used his brother as a trusted drugs runner. They were arrested after search warrants were carried out at their home addresses in June 2015.
During the course of the police investigation, other dealers received prison sentences of between three years and four months and eight years.
More than £67,000 has been confiscated so far under the Proceeds of Crime Act and cocaine worth more than £226,000 seized.
Detective Chief Inspector Josie Hayes said: “Hibble and Steven May ran a well-established organised criminal group, which conducted a lucrative enterprise making money through peddling in the misery of others.
“Steven May gave the appearance that he was a respectable businessman while leaving his younger brother Terry May to do his dirty work.
“Justice finally caught up with Hibble and this case sends a clear message to criminals that you cannot hide. We will find you.
“The money seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act will be used across policing to protect the people of Essex and we are making further applications under the legislation in an effort to recoup the cash they made from their criminality.
“Every day police are tackling and disrupting serious organised crime gangs in Essex to protect our communities.
“But we also rely on information from members of the public.
“If you are concerned about drug dealing in your neighbourhood and have any information, please contact us, or get in touch with Crimestoppers.”
Contact police on 101 or online at www.essex.police.uk/do-it-online
Alternatively, contact independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org.