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Albanian gang who ran 'Deliveroo for drugs' from Tunbridge Wells jailed for 60 years

By Sean Axtell

An Albanian gang that made £4 million a year as a “Deliveroo for drugs” has been jailed for a total of 60 years.

Having entered the country illegally, the 10 men ran the sophisticated service around Tunbridge Wells day and night.

Dubbed the “24/7 Conspiracy”, the group ran a call centre which zapped orders out onto couriers’ burner phones, a court heard.

Money seized on September 23 (12169137)
Money seized on September 23 (12169137)

The call centre received more than 1,500 calls in one week and dealers would carry out hundreds of transactions a week.

Judge Brown told ringleader Nelson Alliaj: “I am sure that, having been deported from the UK early in 2018, you came back to the UK unlawfully with the sole intention of operating this conspiracy.

“Whether it was already up and running or whether it was initiated in the spring of 2018 when you returned is not clear.

“This was a serious organised crime and you were at the heart of it.”

She continued: “It is a serious aggravating feature that you re-entered the UK having been deported to carry out this criminal enterprise.

“You had no regard to the casualties you would cause, both in terms of the drug users themselves, the knock on effects of drug crime or the wider communities.”

The judge branded Ervis Dervishi, 21, as Alliaj’s “lieutenant and safe pair of hands".

Dervishi organised houses, car insurance and other administrative detail to carry out the operation, the court heard.

“You were a safe pair of hands trusted to initiate the likes of Sadrijaq into the ways of the operation,” the judge added.

The court heard Dervishi was banned from the UK for a similar offence but returned shortly after to take part in the conspiracy.

Judge Brown told the court how the conspiracy came apart after a number of police stings.

One courier, Mataj Arsid, 24, supplied cocaine to an undercover police officer before his arrest.

Kent Police’s five-month investigation revealed a turnover of more than £1 million.

But Judge Brown put the figure at about £4 million per year.

Dealers were supplied with packs containing thirty of half gram bags and sold for £40 a pop.

Couriers would then be “reloaded” in exchange for £1,200 made off the previous pack.

Opening the trial, prosecutor Simon Taylor likened the operation to a large scale takeaway service.

He said: “Organisers of the network were operating a Deliveroo or Just Eat for drugs and able to keep the key phone sterile by only using it for receiving and confirming orders.”

Nelson Alliaj, of no fixed abode, was jailed for 15 years. It will run concurrently with a nine year sentence for production of Class B drugs.

Ervis Dervishi, 21, of Cone Road in Colchester was sentenced to seven years.

Rigels Hadushaj, 20, of Grenfell Mansions in Deptford was sentenced to seven years.

Izmir Basha, 24, of no fixed abode was sentenced to seven years.

Arlind Palushi, 19, of no fixed abode was sentenced to six years and six months.

Alfred Gashi, 19, of Lodge Road in Southampton, was sentenced to six years and three months.

Marius Kuci, 25, of Lodge Road in Southampton, was sentenced to four years.

Fatos Metalia, 26, of no fixed abode was sentenced to four years.

Arsid Mataj, 24, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to three years and six months.

Xhensil Vucaj, 18, of Brook Road in Thornton Heath, the only legal UK citizen, was sentenced to two years suspended for two year and 200 hours unpaid work.

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Tunbridge Wells

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