Published: 17:00, 26 November 2021
| Updated: 18:24, 26 November 2021
A cocaine dealer used a specially adapted van with a hidden compartment to pick up drugs from a lorry parked in a lay-by.
Jack Tibury, of Rochford in Essex, was sentenced to eight-and-a-half-years after pleading guilty to drugs offences at Basildon Crown Court today.
His accomplice Scott Russo, who had helped him buy the van and had arranged the buying, collecting and selling of the cocaine using the communication platform EncroChat, was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years.
The EncroChat platform had been used extensively by criminals, but was taken down in December last year, after police were able to infiltrate it and gather information on offenders.
Russo, 31, used the handle ‘Sizeablehunter’ on the platform while Tilbury, 26, was known as 'Tubbs'.
Messages showed Tilbury was sent to collect eight kilos of cocaine from a lorry parked in a layby in Snodland in June 2020.
After this, the pair started to deal cocaine more regularly in the local area and in larger amounts.
Officers from the Organised Crime Partnership arrested Tilbury at his home in Essex on December 2 last year. Two kilos of cocaine were found underneath a cot in Tilbury’s bedroom, alongside smaller amounts prepared for sale, plus scales and plastic bags.
Russo, of Hockley in Essex, went on the run but was tracked down and arrested at a hotel in Southend eight days later. He was found with more than £2,000 in cash.
Andrew Tickner from the Organised Crime Partnership said: "This investigation has resulted in a crime group supplying significant amounts of class A drugs to those on the street being wiped out.
"If this criminal enterprise had continued, Russo and Tilbury would have been generating vast profits which would have been used to further fund their criminality.
"This is yet another example of the National Crime Agency and the Met Police working together to protect the public.”