NEWPORT boxer Justyn Hugh was today jailed for 11 years - and five others in his drug gang have been sentenced for a total of more than 29 years in prison between them.
The sentences came after all six pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply a class A drug.
The operation, lead by Hugh, brought five and half kilos of cocaine into the Gwent area, with a street value of £500,000, between November 2012 and July 2013, Cardiff Crown Court was told today
All six appeared in the dock for sentencing by Judge Stephen Hopkins.
Hugh, 29 along with Steven Marchant, 42, of Hendre Farm Drive, Luke Postians, 32, of Ashley Road, Nicholas Davis, 33, and Nathan Williams, 34, of Howard Close, all pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to supply a class A drug on October 18 last year.
A sixth man, Albanian national, GzimUka, 26, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty on November 8, 2013.
In a hearing last week, Cardiff Crown Court was told Hugh of Iris Road, Rogerstone, was the leader of the group and would contact people in Albania and the Netherlands.
Speaking today, Justice Hopkins said: ““You Justyn Hugh were the leader of this conspiracy making contact with those at the very heart of trafficking cocaine into the UK. This was in effect, your conspiracy – with co-defendants acting under your direction.”
Postains was also said to have played a “significant role” assisting Hugh and using so-called “dirty” phones on his behalf.
Marchant, Davis and Uka were all deemed to have significantly lesser roles in the operation.
The court heard Hugh would organise the transportation of cocaine from London into Gwent. There were a total of seven drug trips, with Uka acting as courier on most of them.
Once in South Wales the drugs and money exchange would take place.
Following a successful delivery on May 1, 2013, the court heard how Hugh went on a mini-break to Las Vegas, costing almost £4,000.
The eventual charges were a result of Operation Debut- an eight month investigation involving extensive surveillance. The court heard how a covert listening device in Hugh's BMW car heard conversations between himself and the other men discussing the drugs.
That and the evidence discovered from phone tracing led to the individual arrests of each of the men.
Justice Hopkins said: “This was significant offending with an enormous amount of cocaine. As a result of the conspiracy, headed by you Justyn Hugh, there was as much as half a million pounds of it awash in Gwent in South Wales.”
The Judge continued saying cocaine was a “malicious” and “addictive” drug. He said: “The effect upon families is well known.” Addressing at least 20 people in the public gallery, he said he hoped they would not think the sentences he imposed were to punish them.
He said drug dealing of this scale was considered to be “easy money”. An aggravating factor was the high puroty of the drugs being brought in which on occasion, exceeded 70 per cent. So while the wholesale value was around £220,000, once cut with other substances the street value was more than double that amount.
Ian Dixey, defending Hugh, had said his client was not the leader but an organiser who rang telephone lines in the UK which were sometimes diverted to other countries.
In mitigation, all six defence barristers asked for their clients’ early guilty pleas to be taken into consideration and said their clients were "remorseful".
Hugh was sentenced to 11 years. Postians was sentenced seven year eight months, Williams- eight years four months, Marchant – four years eight months, Davis- four years eight months and Uka- five years four months.
Hugh, Postains and Williams were served a serious crime prevention order for five years, to begin on the day each are released from custody.
Kelly Huggins, Senior Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service Wales, said: “Their activities were undone by a highly-professional Gwent police operation which, over a number of months, pieced together evidence from a wide variety of sources including surveillance footage, CCTV and telecommunications data.
“Using this evidential information, the prosecution was able to build strong cases against all six defendants, leading to their guilty pleas.”
Detective Chief Inspector Jon Evans who heads up the Organised Crime Unit said: “This has been a complex investigation into a determined criminal conspiracy which looked to flood the streets of Gwent and South Wales with Class A drugs. Those concerned had no regard for the harm and misery these drugs cause to local communities, they were driven by their own selfish greed.
“The team of detectives who uncovered and investigated this conspiracy should be commended for their patient and determined efforts.”