Published: 09:33, 13 November 2020
| Updated: 10:57, 13 November 2020
Three men have been jailed after police seized more than £1.1 million worth of Class A drugs.
The men were sentenced at Kingston Crown Court yesterday for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, namely cocaine.
Karl Balogun, 31, of Wood Lodge Gardens, Bromley, was sentenced to six years and 10 months’ imprisonment.
Antonio Chambers, 47, of Vicarage Gate, Kensington, was sentenced to 10 years and nine months’ imprisonment.
Darren Lamb, 45, of no fixed address, was sentenced to seven years and seven months’ imprisonment.
Chambers admitted the offence at Kingston Crown Court back in July, while Balogun and Lamb pleaded guilty on Monday, September 28, at the same court.
Officers from the Met’s Flying Squad looking into an elaborate drugs conspiracy identified Chambers as a person of interest and realised he had recruited Balogun and Lamb to become his drug runners during the height of the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Balogun was a licenced minicab driver and would use his profession as cover to conduct drug runs across London and south east England, while Lamb posed as a legitimate passenger in Balogun’s cab by sitting in the back during the drop offs.
On Monday, May 18 at about 8.40am, officers watched Balogun drive to the South Norwood area in his white Toyota Prius where he picked up Lamb.
At 9.31am, Balogun and Lamb stopped at Campden Grove, Kensington, where Chambers – who was on foot and carrying a rucksack – was waiting.
Chambers was then seen walking to the rear of the vehicle, where he handed over the rucksack to Lamb. Shortly afterwards, he took his rucksack back and walked off as the vehicle drove away.
At 11.04am, the vehicle, still driven by Balogun, made a stop at Newmarket, Suffolk, and Lamb made a drug drop off shortly before getting back into the vehicle and making a further stop at Denham, Buckinghamshire, at around 12.50pm, where the two men collected drugs.
At 1.25pm, Balogun and Lamb drove back to Campden Grove in Kensington where Chambers met them again and was seen getting into the rear of the vehicle with a rucksack.
As Chambers entered the vehicle, plain-clothed officers intercepted the Prius and arrested the three men for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Inside the vehicle, officers found two 1kg blocks of cocaine in Chambers' rucksack and seized a separate holdall containing eight 1kg blocks of cocaine, which was open and placed between Lamb’s feet.
At an address where Chambers was living in Vicarage Gate, Kensington, two encrypted smartphones, electronic scales, £7,000 in cash, and a 1kg block of cocaine were seized.
At Balogun’s address in Wood Lodge Gardens, Bromley, officers found:
• Two large black tubs containing skunk/cannabis
• £5,000 hidden in a sock draw
• Three large wraps of cannabis
• Several wraps of cocaine
• A large quantity of snap bags and drugs paraphernalia
• Xanax tablets
• Benzocaine in a foil packet
• A burner mobile phone
The drugs seized as part of this operation have a street value of £1,100,000.
DC Mike Bunn, the investigating officer from the Met’s Flying Squad, said: “This crime group were supplying multiple kilos of cocaine across London, and the UK, on a weekly basis.
“Antonio Chambers ran his drug empire from the comforts of Kensington and used members of his firm to do his bidding.
“There is an undeniable link between drug dealing and violence, and I am pleased we have prevented these drugs from being sold on our streets and bringing chaos to London’s communities.
“This dangerous individual has been locked up for a considerable amount of time. I hope this sentencing sends a clear message to anyone who is considering carrying out similar acts that we will absolutely use all legal powers available to us to bring offenders to justice."