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The ringleader of a multi-million pound drugs ring, his girlfriend and two associates have been jailed after police dismantled an organised crime group.
Abdul Hamid – who is starting an 18 year jail term – ran the Tariq drug line selling cocaine mainly in Chelmsford, Maldon, Heybridge and the Dengie Peninsula.
During the investigation, officers worked out that the drugs line was prolific, and operated around 20 hours a day, every day, potentially making millions of pounds in profit.
The profits were laundered through five businesses Hamid and his partner Danielle Stevenson-Roberts ran in Maldon, including two restaurants and a tanning salon.
The pair also used money from their crimes to pay for properties and cars, including land in Tenerife and cars including Mercedes saloons and a Rolls-Royce.
Officers suspected they were smuggling cash in their luggage during frequent visits to Tenerife.
As a result, they were detained by Border Force officials at Stansted Airport on August 18, 2019 and were found to have £29,000 in their luggage. When questioned about the cash, they claimed it was for a wedding, some was from their businesses, and some from the sale of cars.
The cash was seized.
The following day, Hamid failed to stop for police in The Street, Latchingdon. He crashed into cars belonging to two members of the public in an attempt to evade police and mounted a pavement where pedestrians were walking. He was stopped, arrested and charged with a string of driving offences.
Following an extensive investigation, Hamid and Stevenson-Roberts were arrested in February 2020, along with Murshed Uddin and Lloyd Bridge, two associates who helped run the drugs line.
Andrew Lay, a drugs courier for the Tariq line, was arrested the following month.
All five were charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine. Hamid, Stevenson-Roberts, Uddin and Bridge were also charged with concealing criminal property.
Hamid and Uddin were found with mobile phones in prison while they were on remand and were also each charged with offences relating to electronic transmission devices in prison.
All five defendants pleaded guilty to the offences they were charged with at hearings in September last year.
Lay, 37, of Victoria Road, Maldon, was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday April 16 to two years in prison, suspended for two years.
The others were sentenced on Monday April 19.
Hamid, 34, formerly of Sassoon Way, Maldon, was jailed for 18 years.
Stevenson-Roberts, 35, formerly of Church Street, Goldhanger, was jailed for eight years.
Uddin, 24, formerly of Mundon Road, Maldon, was jailed for seven years and three months.
Lloyd Bridge, 32, of Brownbaker Court, Neath Hill, Milton Keynes, was jailed for five years and two months.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Nelson said: “Hamid was the head of an organised crime group, who directed a network of street dealers selling cocaine in mid Essex.
“The drugs sales were prolific, and potentially made millions of pounds while the drugs line was operating between January 2017 and February 2020.
“Stevenson-Roberts then used legitimate businesses, as well as a fake one, to launder the cash.
“When Hamid was remanded in custody in August 2019 for driving offences, Uddin and Bridge stepped up from being couriers to manage the drugs line.
“But we dismantled their criminal enterprise and they and Uddin are now paying the price for their crimes.
“We have secured legal restraints on the sale or movement of property and more than £300,000 in cash in the UK and Spain. We have also seized several luxury cars from Hamid and Stevenson-Roberts. These will all be subject of a proceeds of crime hearing in due course.
“Drugs lines profit off the back of other people’s misery and don’t care about the harm they cause in our communities.
“We are determined to take apart these crime groups and make sure they don’t profit from their crimes.”