Four sentenced following investigation into large scale cocaine supply
Four members of an organised crime group have been sentenced for their roles in supplying huge amounts of cocaine in the West Country following an investigation by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU).
Aaron Jefferies, 31, of Allington Drive, Bristol, led the criminal operation. He was convicted following a four-week trial at Bristol Crown Court last month of conspiracy to supply cocaine alongside Aaron Rafique, age 30, of Milner Green, Bristol, and Robbie Shore, age 25, of Williams Close, Melksham. Connor Forrester, age 25, of Meadow Road, Melksham, pleaded guilty to the same offence in August 2020.
Jefferies and Rafique were also found guilty of conspiracy to produce cannabis after a cannabis grow was found at a flat in Stokes Croft, Bristol.
All four men were sentenced yesterday (24 November). Jefferies was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years for conspiracy to supply cocaine and possession with intent to supply cocaine. He was handed a further 18 month sentence for conspiracy to produce cannabis, making a total prison sentence of 11 years.
Rafique was sentenced to five years and five months, Shore to six-and-a-half-years, and Forrester received a suspended two year sentence and 300 hours community service.
A fifth person, Lauren Jefferies, 28, wife of Aaron Jefferies, is due to be sentenced tomorrow (26 November) after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice for attempting to get evidence removed during a police search.
Both Jefferies and middle man Rafique were arrested at their homes on 14 November 2019.
When officers searched Jefferies’ Jaguar, they found packaging from at least 38 separate 1kg blocks of cocaine, which would have a wholesale value of £1.1million. Also in the car was a plastic bag containing 188g of cocaine (worth £14,000 wholesale), a green rucksack with a further 9.5g of cocaine inside, eight sandwich bags each containing 1oz of cannabis, an imitation firearm, a truncheon, a small lock knife, and a sports bag with three sets of scales and three knives.
Three months earlier, SW ROCU officers had watched a meeting which took place in Jefferies’ Range Rover in Melksham between him and Shore. A warrant at a nearby flat on Sangster Avenue led to Shore being arrested and Forrester trying to run away. He discarded what turned out to be £4,000 worth of cocaine as he ran, with £300 worth later found in his pockets. A subsequent search of Forrester’s home on Meadow Road, Melksham, led to a further £14,000 worth of cocaine, four mobile phones and scales being seized. Shore was using Forrester’s address to store the drugs in an attempt to avoid being caught.
Detective Inspector Charlotte Tucker from the SW ROCU said: “This group was organising the supply of cocaine on a commercial scale in Wiltshire and beyond. Aaron Jefferies was top of their group, but we all know the harm going on further down the chain. It’s purely about money for them, but for others it’s exploitation, fear, violence and crime-funded drug use. The impact of organised crime is felt by everyone.
“The sentences handed down reflect the level of their involvement in organised crime. We will now continue to work with the CPS to ensure it’s not just their freedom that has been taken away, but also the luxury assets their crime has funded.”
Ann Hampshire from the South West Complex Casework Unit said: “We supported this successful complex investigation led by our colleagues at the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit.
“The defendants in this case sought to profit from the misery that illegal drugs bring to communities in the South West. We work closely with specialist officers to target, dismantle and disrupt organised crime groups and the sentences imposed today reflect the serious consequences for those engaged in this type of criminality.
“Our work does not end today. We are determined to ensure that any assets that this group acquired through their criminality are confiscated.”