A pair of drug lords who wanted to emulate the notorious Kray twins have been jailed after being caught with more than 200 kilos of cocaine – a street value of around £16million.
Robert Smith, 37, and Ismet Salih, 33, described themselves as the “Chadwell Cartel” and dreamed of becoming gangsters.
They looked up to the likes of Ronnie and Reggie Kray, who ruled the East End underworld in the 1960s.
An investigation by Smith and Salih uncovered around 80kg of cocaine supplied through their network before being linked to a further 123kg seized from other dealers.
A member of the crew was picked up on the street with 20kg of coke worth around £1.6million – meaning the 203kg linked to the gang could have earned as much as £16million.
Smith ran the gang that supplied coke and cannabis to the Chadwell St Mary and Grays areas of Essex, using Salih and his associate Lee Twigg as his trusted deputies.
In encrypted messages, Smith used the handle “demonfern” to purchase the Class A drugs from a Dubai-based vendor calling himself “blacknarco” and “darkestnarco.”
Twigg and Salih collected the cocaine from Smith’s UK suppliers, then stored and distributed the drugs for him – and made sure money from sales returned to the suppliers.
They exchanged more than 6,000 messages, mostly about selling cocaine, police said.
Smith and Salih dubbed themselves the “Chadwell Cartel” in chat messages with other crooks, revealing their aspirations to become gangsters like the notorious Ronnie and Reggie Kray.
The couple were arrested in September 2021, with investigators finding three kilos of cannabis with a wholesale value of up to £15,760 in Salih’s garden shed and providing evidence that cannabis had been grown in his attic prior to the raid.
When he was arrested, Smith had £7,635 in cash in a plastic bag stuffed into his shorts, Britain’s FBI – the National Crime Agency (NCA) – said.
At Basildon Crown Court on Wednesday, Smith was sentenced to 16.5 years in prison while Salih was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Following Smith and Salih’s conviction, Andrew Tickner of the NCA-Met Police Organized Crime Partnership said: “Robert Smith and Ismet Salih were behind a criminal network that sold vast quantities of cocaine in Essex and beyond.
“Their dream of becoming gangsters like the Kray twins was quickly dashed by our investigation. Instead, long prison sentences are their reality.
“Through the strong partnership between the NCA and the Met Police, we will continue to prosecute organized criminals who fuel the Class A drug trade.”
Investigators discovered Essex couple Andrew Fraser, 59, from Harlow, Christopher Low, 48, from Chipping Ongar, as well as Jamie Sheaves, 32, from Dartford, Kent, and Adil Bakali, 34, from Corsham, Wiltshire, all as Runners worked for Smiths Dubai supplier.
All four were sentenced to a total of 39 years in prison between March 2020 and May last year in different courts.
Fraser was stopped driving a van on the M25 Dartford Crossing in Kent with two bags containing 20kg of cocaine and a street value of £1.6million in the back.
He would have given Salih the narcotics if he hadn’t been arrested, according to the NCA.
The following month, officers saw Twigg slip a black holdall into Bakali’s car, which was later pulled over by M1 Northampton Services police.
More than 21kg of cocaine – with a street value of almost £1.7million – was found in bags in the back of the car.
Police found a further 3.5kg of cocaine in Twigg’s garage and hidden in his garden shed in Grays, Essex, as well as a cannabis farm in his attic.
The cocaine seized from Twigg had been supplied by Sheaves, who also supplied drugs to Salih and was also in contact with the same dealer in Dubai.
Low has been jailed after 40kg of coke – worth about £3.2million – was discovered in the boot of a black Jaguar XF in Brentford, west London.
He was also found to have assigned Kevin Malthouse 5kg of cocaine, according to the NCA.
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https://metro.co.uk/2023/03/09/drug-kingpins-who-idolised-the-kray-twins-jailed-after-cocaine-bust-18415330/ Drug lord who idolized the Kray twins who were incarcerated after the cocaine bust