The UK's fastest-growing regional news network
°C | 15°C
19°C | 10°C
18°C | 9°C
See the full forecast for your area.
Sponsored by Britelite.
Home Maidstone News Article
An Albanian - said to have played a leading role in a huge drugs conspiracy in Kent - has been jailed for eight-and-a-half years.
Astrit Suli, from Maidstone, swore at the judge as he was sentenced and led away to start his prison term.
Maidstone Crown Court was told that Suli, who admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine, was involved with nine other men who have already been jailed for a total of 43 years for their part in the crime.
Edward Fowler, prosecuting, said: “We suggest Suli played a leading role and was buying and selling on a commercial scale.
“He was closely linked to the original source because of the purity of the drugs and significant figures of money were involved in these transactions.”
But Pavlos Panayi QC, defending, told the court that although Suli, of Edna Road, Ringlestone, was involved in setting up the drug exchanges, he was not someone who expected to receive a stake of the profits.
Mr Panayi said: “It would be crass and simplistic to describe Suli as the boss.
“He was being paid for the work he was doing as and when he did it but he did not have a stake in the business.
“He was living in modest shared accommodation and there is no evidence of high living. His wife was working long shifts at Nandos restaurant on modest wages.”
Mr Panayi said that after withdrawing from the conspiracy he was arrested and interviewed.
Suli ran a car wash business, making about £50 profit a day, he and his wife were in dire financial straits and bailiffs were calling because of unpaid bills.
He added that Suli received limited payment for his part in the conspiracy and his debts made him vulnerable to getting involved.
Suli had lived in the UK since 2002 and was of previous good character.
Mr Panayi said: “He has worked hard but fell in with poor company and developed a cocaine and gambling habit. He played a significant but not leading role in the conspiracy.”
"Crime does not pay, and we will use all means necessary to bring those who break the law to justice" DCI, Luke Dodson
Judge Charles Macdonald QC told Suli he and others had trafficked cocaine from his home address.
He added: “I find that your role was not leading but significant."
Suli, of Edna Road, Maidstone, is the last of 13 offenders who have now been sentenced in recent months after officers seized heroin and cocaine with an estimated street value of £2,370,460.
Those sentenced on 30 May were:
Erlin Hasa, 27, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to six years nine months in prison for conspiracy to supply class A drugs on November, 8 2013 at Maidstone Crown Court.
On Thursday, 26 June Anastasios Sykiniotis, 30, previously of Cobham Close, Enfield, was sentenced to 14 years nine months in prison for conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
Following sentencing, detective chief inspector, Luke Dodson from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: "The sentencing of Suli brings to a close a long and complex investigation by officers into multi-million pound drugs supply ring.
"In total, 13 men are now serving sentences for these offences and a significant amount of drugs destined for Kent and possibly further afield have been seized and destroyed.
"Crime does not pay, and we will use all means necessary to bring those who break the law to justice."
Click here for more news from Maidstone.
Click here for more news from around the county.