A FISHPONDS man led a drugs gang that supplied drugs worth millions of pounds across the region.
Police say Anes Troudi (above) bought cocaine which was worth up to £5 million when dealt on the street.
He and his associates then distributed the drugs across the South West until police arrested them after cracking the encrypted messaging service they were using.
Troudi, aged 40, of Midland Terrace, was sentenced to 17 years in jail on November 3, after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy to supply up to 50 kilos of cocaine between January 2020 and January 2021.
Co-defendant Adnan Malik, 33, of St Annes, was jailed for nine years, for conspiracy to supply six kilos of cocaine bought from Troudi.
Gary Browne, 39, from Radstock, was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years for conspiracy to supply 5kg of cocaine bought from Troudi and possessing another 750g of cocaine and 40kg of cannabis with intent to supply.
Carl Powell, aged 50, of Paulton, was given a 46-week suspended sentence after taking possession of Browne’s drugs to hide them.
The investigation was led by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, using data provided by Operation Venetic, an international investigation which infiltrated EncroChat, an encrypted messaging service used by criminals.
Cocaine sold on a ‘commercial wholesale’ level
A SWROCU spokesperson said Troudi played a leading role in the conspiracy and investigators were able to track his crimes through his EncroChat device, which showed how drugs were sold on to Malik and Browne.
Once the police hack of EncroChat had been discovered, the service alerted its users and advised them to destroy their handsets – but Troudi simply switched to another encrypted phone, which police say documented his involvement in supplying “commercial wholesale levels of cocaine”.
Malik, who was arrested in November last year, also used an EncroChat phone which provided evidence of his offences.
Police seized jewellery and designer clothes worth more than £100,000 and a Porsche from his home.
On Browne’s arrest the same month, officers found £32,000 in cash from his van.
Detective Inspector Matt Houghton, of SWROCU, said: “Troudi, Malik and Browne were embedded in organised crime and I’m pleased to see the court handed down significant sentences to them.
“The assets seized from Malik alone show the amount of money being made and the lifestyle being financed through the distribution of harmful drugs.
“Thanks to the invaluable assistance from the CPS’s Complex Casework Unit we were able to stop significant quantities of drugs being supplied across our region.”
CPS South West Complex Casework Unit head Ben Samples said: “After close cooperative work with our partners, we were able to present a compelling case that proved these four defendants each played key roles in the supply of dangerous drugs worth millions of pounds.
“Their intention was clear, to make as much money as possible with no regard to the misery and destruction that is caused by this activity.
“Today’s result sends a loud message to those involved – we will not tolerate this activity and will not hesitate to prosecute those found to be involved in the supply of dangerous drugs.
“Drug-related crime is corrosive – it damages not only those involved in buying and selling and their families, but the communities in which they live.”
Top picture: Anes Troudi and some of the cocaine he supplied that was seized by police. Photos from South West Regional Organised Crime Unit