A Bracklesham man and three others have been sentenced to a total of more than 30 years in prison after a Sussex Police drugs operation netted a huge quantity of high purity cocaine.
Three were found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine after a trial at Hove Crown Court, and the other had previously pleaded guilty to the same offence.
All have been in custody since their arrests. They were sentenced today (Friday, January 13).
Andrew Billings, 33, a motor dealer, of Bracklesham Caravan and Boat Club, Bracklesham Bay who pleaded not guilty, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years.
Albert Mouhtiseb, 28, a shop worker, of Pampisford Road, South Croydon, Surrey, who had pleaded not guilty, was sentenced to seven years; Darren Henwood, 37, a car salesman, of Park Road, Faygate, West Sussex, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years and Charles Smith, 41, unemployed of Little Horsgate, Hanlye Lane, Cuckfield, West Sussex, who had pleaded not guilty, was sentenced to four years.
Sentencings for Barry Harlow, 65, of East Preston, West Sussex, and Mark Taylor, 36, of no fixed address were adjourned to dates yet to be set. They had both pleaded guilty.
An operation carried out by detectives from the force’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit resulted in Harlow and Mouhtiseb being arrested in a car parked in the car park of the Cottesmore Golf and Country Club, Buchan Hill, Pease Pottage, near Crawley, at 12.30pm on April 1 last year.
A package containing cocaine with a potential estimated street value of some £450,000 when cut was seized from Harlow’s car whilst in the other car being used by Mouhtiseb officers seized £24,000 cash.
Shortly afterwards detectives went to a business unit at nearby White Herons Farm, Forest Road, Colgate and arrested Henwood, Billings and Smith there. Equipment for use in cutting and preparing cocaine for distribution was discovered there.
Taylor was arrested later as a result of further enquiries. Lee Burton-Asante, 43, was acquitted of the charge.
Detective Chief Inspector Ali Eaton said; “Henwood was the ringleader of this group, closely supported by Billings, with Harlow acting as a courier. Taylor had passed the drugs on to Mouhtiseb, who was also a key member, for onward sale to Henwood and no doubt for later distribution when cut on to the streets of Sussex.
“It was particularly satisfying for us to be able to dismantle an entire drugs distribution operation from initial couriers to the principal and his associates.
“Criminals like this need to know that we will relentlessly target them and bring them to justice, in the interests of all law abiding people and local communities.”