Six men have been jailed for a total of more than 24 years for their roles in an operation which led to cocaine and cannabis being distributed in Southend.
Officers from our South Disruptor Team carried out a series of warrants in April this year as part of an investigation into cannabis and cocaine being sold in the city.
The investigation established the drug line was being led by 40-year-old Jason Balding.
When his home address in Thames Close, Southend, was raided officers seized more than 152g of cannabis and cocaine worth around £60,000 from a garage belonging to him.
Officers also seized 11g of cannabis from the home of Gary Salvin in Biggin Lane, Tilbury, and 1.8g of cocaine and 1.12g of cannabis at the home of Daniel Deadman in Sherwood Way, Southend.
Also recovered during the warrants were nine wraps of cocaine from the home address of Tony Carter, in Albany Avenue, Westcliff.
The drugs seized including the cannabis found at Balding’s home, had a potential value of nearly £6,000. More than £2,500 in cash was also recovered.
Through the investigation, officers found there were 7,000 WhatsApp messages exchanged on the drugs line.
While Balding was identified as the head of the group, Deadman, Salvin and 42-year-old Mark Barrett, of Glenwood Avenue, Westcliff, were identified as the main line holders in charge of the phone number used to sell the drugs.
Carter, 39, was also identified as part of the group with his role being one of the street dealers.
All five men were later charged alongside a sixth man Joshua Leck-Bennet, 37, of Woodfield Road, Leigh-on-Sea, who was found with over 1kg of cocaine in his home address with a value of over £40,000.
Balding admitted conspiracy to supply Class A cocaine and conspiracy to supply Class B cannabis and was jailed for a total of seven years.
Deadman admitted conspiracy to supply Class A cocaine and possession of a Class B Cannabis and was jailed for four years and six months.
Salvin admitted conspiracy to supply Class A cocaine and conspiracy to supply Class B cannabis and was sentenced to five years and four months in prison.
Carter admitted conspiracy to supply Class A cocaine and conspiracy to Supply class B cannabis and was jailed for two years and three months.
Barrett admitted conspiracy to supply Class A cocaine and was jailed for four years and one month.
Leck-Bennet admitted conspiracy to supply Class A cocaine, conspiracy to supply Class B cannabis, possession with intent to supply Class A cocaine, possession with intent to supply Class B cannabis and possession of criminal property.
He was jailed for four years and one month.
All appeared at Basildon Crown Court on October 22.
Balding, Leck-Bennett, Salvin, Carter and Barrett had further sentences issued to run concurrently alongside their custodial sentence.
Sergeant Adam Jarvis, from the South Disruptor Team, said: “This group was a significant Organised Crime Group responsible for poisoning our community with drugs.
“Drugs ruin lives and destroy communities and where drugs are sold, violence follows.
“They have been given a total of more than 24 years in prison.
“Such was the quality of our investigation that all six men had no option but to admit the charges against them.
“I hope this result sends a message – if you’re planning to sell drugs in Southend, we will identify you, we will disrupt your activities, and we will put you behind bars.”