Regional: Six members of an organised crime group (OCG) convicted of drug supply across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Wiltshire
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Patrick Gray, aged 44, of Radford Close, Oxford and Mohammed Ali, aged 50, of Chervil, Milton Keynes, were found guilty on Wednesday February 2 of a count each of conspiring to supply heroin, conspiring to supply cocaine and a count of participating in the criminal activities of an organised crime group (OCG) following a trial at Oxford Crown Court.
Lewis Court, aged 36, of Cuddesdon Way, Oxford, Richard Gray, aged 32, of Barley Court, Witney, Jamie Shepherd-Smith, aged 33, of Brambling Cross, Kingston Bagpuize and William White, aged 35, of no fixed abode, had earlier pleaded guilty to the same offences.
Between March 31, 2020 and May 26, 2021, the defendants conspired with persons unknown to supply large quantities of drugs across the Thames Valley and Wiltshire.
Operation Sedate was an investigation launched into the OCG, run by Richard and Patrick Gray following intelligence received that the brothers were involved in the supply of class A drugs.
This was as a result of Thames Valley Police receiving an Operation Venetic package for the “Encro handle” Cheetahsoda, which was attributed to Richard Gray.
Operation Venetic is the UK law enforcement response to the takedown of encrypted Comms platform EncroChat.
The investigation that followed identified that Richard Gray and others travelled to Lancashire to purchase drugs.
While at these locations, the drugs were prepared to be sold on to customers across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Wiltshire.
Following the execution of warrants in May 2021, more than 2.8kg of cocaine and 18.3 grams of crack cocaine were recovered, along with cash totalling more than £158,000.
As a result of the warrants, the six men were charged on May 27, 2021.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Gavin Toney, of the Serious Organised Crime Unit, said: “As a result of intelligence-led warrants following information received from the NCA, we made a number of arrests into a significant drug supply operation.
“Those convicted brought large quantities of class A drugs into the Thames Valley with the intention of flooding the Thames Valley with them.
“Following the execution of a series of warrants on 26 May 2021, officers located large quantities of these drugs along with large sums of cash.
“This was a significant investigation and as a result, six members of this OCG have now been convicted and are likely to spend significant spells in prison as a result.
“The supply of drugs in our communities causes untold harm, and tackling this criminality is one of Thames Valley Police’s top priorities.
“We have removed six major players from our communities as a result of this investigation, but we will never tire in bringing dealers, and those who bring drugs into the Thames Valley, to justice.
“Our Stronghold team will proactively and robustly pursue and prosecute offenders, and our activity will be both visible and covert to ensure that the harm brought into our communities by organised crime groups is removed.
“I would like to reassure our communities that we will continue to tackle drug supply and will continue to bring offenders before the courts where they belong.”
The six men will appear again at Oxford Crown Court on 25 March for sentencing.