From Black Country to London via Albania: How undercover op busted huge cocaine gang

Cocaine, guns and £500,000 cash. Six months of undercover work revealed how a sleepy part of the Black Country played a key part in a major UK drugs ring.

Drug dealers Khalad Uddin, top left, and Michael Palmer from Tipton, bottom left, have been jailed after guns and £500,000 cash were seized
Drug dealers Khalad Uddin, top left, and Michael Palmer from Tipton, bottom left, have been jailed after guns and £500,000 cash were seized

It was a sophisticated cocaine racket that saw its nefarious network stretch from quiet Kingswinford to Albanian gangs in London.

Fourteen men have now been jailed after police smashed the elaborate plot following six months of undercover operations, recovering more than £500,000 in crisp banknotes. And today, police lifted the lid on the conspiracy - releasing pictures and footage that revealed the luxurious life lived by the kingpin who ran the operation.

This week Khalad Uddin - the fixer between mobs in the Black Country, Oxford, the West Country, and Albanians drug cartels in the capital - was jailed for 16 years for his role in the criminal enterprise at Birmingham Crown Court.

£500,000 in crisp banknotes was recovered by police

Much of the conspiracy centred on five men based in Kingswinford who flooded the streets of the region with the class-A drug at a huge profit.

The 35-year-old, of Little Brewery Street, St Clements, Oxford, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to two counts of conspiracy to supply cocaine and one count of money laundering.

The sentence will run concurrently to a 14-year custodial sentence handed out to Uddin earlier this month for his involvement in a conspiracy to transfer firearms and ammunition.

A handgun connected to Uddin's conviction for conspiracy to supply firearms
Ammunition was also recovered

Uddin and the other men were part of a significant criminal organisation, moving and trading large amounts of cocaine across county borders and profiting from the sale of drugs in the Thames Valley, West Midlands and the South West.

During this operation officers seized over 10 kilos of cocaine and recovered around £560,000 in cash, the largest single cash amount recovered by Thames Valley Police.

The men involved used cars with concealed compartments in order to transport the drugs for sale around the country.

WATCH: Designer jeans and hidden cash uncovered at fixer's home:

Michael Palmer, aged 29, of Newman Road, Tipton, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering, one count of possession of an offensive weapon and one count of conspiracy to supply drugs at a hearing at Birmingham Crown Court on May 30.

He was acquitted of one count of money laundering and one count of possession of an offensive weapon.

He was sentenced to four years and 11 months imprisonment at Birmingham Crown Court on Tuesday. Palmer played a lesser role in the conspiracy as a courier.

The 12 other men convicted for conspiracy to supply cocaine all pleaded guilty to the offence at an earlier hearing and were sentenced as follows on May 22:

Top left to right: Steve Hutcheson, Louis Loveridge, Jamie Green and James Bishop. Middle row left to right: Eraldo Cami, Emri Kaziu, Elsid Kopani and David Stokes. Bottom left to right: Craig Davies, Callum Bradley, Emil Cami and Yiber Cami.
  • David Stokes, aged 31, of Tennyson Way, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, was sentenced to 14 years and six months’ imprisonment. Played a lead role in the conspiracy.

  • Craig Davies, aged 30, of Murdoch Drive, Kingswinford, West Midlands, was sentenced to 15 years’ six months’ imprisonment. Had a lead role in the conspiracy.

  • Jamie Green, aged 35, of Water Street, Kingswinford, West Midlands, was sentenced to nine years four months’ imprisonment. Played a significant role in the conspiracy.

  • James Bishop, aged 33, of Vicarage Road, Wollaston, Stourbridge, was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. Played a significant role in the conspiracy.

  • Callum Bradley, aged 31, of Ashwood Marina, Kingswinford, was sentenced to three years eight months’ imprisonment. Played a lesser role in the conspiracy.

  • Steve Hutcheson, aged 27, Ullswater, Bracknell, was sentenced to nine years’ six months’ imprisonment. Played a significant role in the conspiracy.

  • Yiber Cami, aged 39, of Cambourne Road, Edgware, London was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. Played a lead role in the conspiracy.

  • Emil Cami, aged 32, of Crescent Road, Finchley, was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. Played a significant role in the conspiracy.

  • Elsid Kopani, aged 28, of Station road, Beaconsfield, was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment. Played a significant role in the conspiracy.

  • Emri Kaziu, aged 35, of North Drive, Streatham, was sentenced to four years’ six months’ imprisonment. Played a lesser role in the conspiracy.

  • Eraldo Cami, aged 23 of no fixed abode, was sentenced to four years six months’ imprisonment. Played a lesser role in the conspiracy.

  • Louis Loveridge, aged 30, of Rosevear Road, Bugle, St Austell, was sentenced to three years and four months’ imprisonment. Played a lesser role in the conspiracy.

It follows an extensive and lengthy investigation by Thames Valley Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit working with West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit, and support from West Mercia, Avon & Somerset and the Metropolitan police services.

WATCH: Gang evidence uncovered and police reaction to sentencing:

Senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Bruce Riddell, said: “During this operation we have been working in partnership with the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit, with assistance from West Mercia, Avon and Somerset and the Metropolitan Police.

“The men investigated as part of this operation were all profiting from moving large amounts of cocaine from London and then across county borders.

“Uddin was one of the key player’s co-ordinating exchanges and facilitating the movement of drugs from the suppliers to customers.

“From this he was living a lavish lifestyle, spending over £62,000 on renting fast cars, and expensive properties in Summertown, Oxford.

“When officers inspected Uddin’s properties in Summertown they recovered significant amounts of cash, anti-surveillance equipment, high value jewellery, 70 pairs of designer jeans and a 10 tonne hydraulic press used in the production of drugs which forensics showed had drug traces on.

“Uddin also arranged the purchase of two handguns, which were found in a shoebox being transported in a VW people carrier.

“During this investigation officers seized over half a million pounds in cash, one of the biggest cash hauls Thames Valley Police has recovered, in addition to this they seized over 10 kilos of cocaine.

“Other members of the conspiracy took luxury holidays, had access to high performance sports cars and had amassed large amounts of cash, and thought they were above the law.

Uddin even owned a designer bomber jacket with a bulletproof vest sown in

“This investigation has put a stop to these individuals profiting from a life of crime and I feel this gives a strong message to anyone who thinks they can make crime pay to think again as we will investigate you and bring you before the courts.

“Thames Valley Police and its partner forces are working closely together to target criminals who have the most detrimental effects on communities.

“We are committed to protecting communities and also the vulnerable people who are often used by organised crime groups for their own criminal gains.

Officers found 70 pairs of designer jeans at Uddin's home

“The community also has its role to play when it comes to tackling serious and organised crime.

“Recently Thames Valley Police launched its STRONGHOLD campaign which seeks to work together in partnership in order to tackle serious organised crime.

“This investigation is a perfect example of this as intelligence from other forces and communities was drawn together in order to bring these men to justice."

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