The head of an enormous drug network responsible for importing £60million of cocaine into the UK has been jailed.
Klodjan Copja, 30, an Albanian national of no fixed address, set up a massive UK cocaine supply network from April 2013 to July 2015.
A total of 12 people have already been jailed for a combined total of 166 years for their part in the scheme in 2013.
Copja then fled the UK, returning in March 2014 to set up a new network of couriers, who would pick up drugs and distribute them to organised crime groups in London, Birmingham, Leicester and Nottingham.
As police continued to investigate his activities, Copja once again fled the UK and set up another drugs network on his return in October 2014.
The Met's investigation came to a conclusion in July 2015, when two men were detained in Saunderton Road in Wembley in possession of 28kg of cocaine, worth an estimated £1.2million.
Police found the pair had supplied 12kg of cocaine to two men who had travelled from Wolverhampton to collect their drugs from Copja's network.
Phone evidence implicated Copja had been orchestrating the network from overseas and he remained on the run until March this year, when he was detained in Greece and extradited back to the UK.
He pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to supply cocaine, one count of conspiracy to supply cannabis and one count of conspiracy to import cocaine, on July 8.
On Friday (August 4), at Kingston Crown Court, he was sentenced to 17 years and four months behind bars following the two year investigation by the Met's Organised Crime Command.
What exactly happened?
The investigation involved three arrest phases in order to build evidence against Copja, the head of the network.
During the first period, from April 2013 to July 2013, Met officers worked with colleagues from Kent Police, West Midlands Police, Bedfordshire Police and Thames Valley Police to carry out a surveillance operation on Copja’s drug supply network.
As a result, 12 people were arrested for their involvement as customers or suppliers of Class A drugs, worth an estimated £2.5million - they were handed a combined total of 166 years behind bars.
On July 3 2013, Met officers detained Copja's couriers in possession of 11kg of cocaine, 6.5kg heroin and 3kg cannabis in the Earls Court area of London.
During their arrests, Copja was seen to drive past the safe house before fleeing the UK later the same day.
Copja returned to the UK in March 2014 and the investigation into his network continued.
Between March 2014 and July 2014, police identified that Copja had employed a new network of couriers.
One of the couriers was identified as making weekly trips to a lay-by in Maidstone, Kent where he would meet a lorry that had imported cocaine from the continent into the UK.
Once the drugs were in the UK, the courier would supply them to numerous organised crime groups in London, Birmingham, Leicester and Nottingham.
Copja again fled the United Kingdom and his network closed down.
Investigations revealed the network had imported approximately 540kg of cocaine, worth an estimated £23million, into the UK prior to their detention.
Copja returned to the UK in October 2014 and again rebuilt his cocaine distribution network.
During this period, Met officers again worked with other forces throughout the UK, and in particular West Midlands Police, to identify the customers of Copja’s network.
This led to the identification of a particular network in Birmingham that was supplied by Copja and run by another Albanian national.
Evidence gathered by West Midlands Police, showed the couriers of the Birmingham cocaine supply network would deliver bags of money to an address in central London and then send further couriers to a location in Wembley to collect their drugs.
The Met’s investigation came to a conclusion in July 2015 when two men were detained in Saunderton Road in Wembley in possession of 28kg cocaine.
They had supplied 12kg of cocaine to two men who had travelled from Wolverhampton to collect their drugs from Copja’s network.
Phone evidence implicated Copja as orchestrating this network from overseas.
Upon hearing his accomplices had been detained, he remained on the run until March 2017, when he was detained in Greece and then extradited back to the UK.
Copja pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to supply cocaine, one count of conspiracy to supply cannabis and one count of conspiracy to import cocaine on July 8.
42 people convicted
Detective Constable Gavin Collins, of the Met’s Organised Crime Command, said: “Copja was the head of a large cocaine supply network responsible for importing £60 million worth of drugs into the UK.
“The Met, in partnership with a number of police forces across the UK, carried out a detailed investigation into the drug supply network that has led to the convictions of 42 people and total jail sentences of more than 360 years.
“The supply of illegal drugs brings nothing but crime and misery to the streets of London and we will investigate and prosecute anyone involved in organised crime groups such as this.”
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