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The final member of a 14-man Essex drugs gang has been sentenced to 7 and a half years in prison.
Cocaine and cannabis worth more than £500,000 were seized following a six-month operation, involving up to 30 officers from the Serious Crime Directorate, to smash a syndicate involved in the production and supply of controlled drugs in the Colchester area.
Simon Collins, 38, of Winnock Road, Colchester, was the last member of the gang to be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court.
13 men, most from the Colchester area and including the gang leader, Mark Venner, have already received various sentences for supplying drugs.
Venner, 36, a land surveyor, of Church Hill, Lawford, Manningtree admitted conspiring to supply cocaine and cannabis and was jailed for 11 years.
Dc Andy Dalgleish said that the operation was launched to target a gang known to be supplying drugs to dealers operating throughout the Colchester area.
As the covert operation continued detectives were able to arrest suspects during the course of drug deals and large consignments of drugs were seized, including 50kg of cannabis resin worth £300,000 and cocaine with a street value of £80,000.
Dc Dalgleish said:”We suspected that Mark Venner was the mastermind behind the syndicate but he always remained in the shadows and gave the impression of being the boss of a landscape gardening business in Bromley Road, Colchester.
“It was probably a legitimate business but he rarely did any work and his nine to five day involved going to the gym, having lunch with friends then golf in the afternoon before going home.
“We then found that the offices of the landscaping business were used for the storing and preparation of drugs.
“This was a long and painstaking investigation. Venner considered himself untouchable for a long time because he had close and trusted friends around him. But he was brought to justice in one of the Essex Police’s most successful surveillance operations which scooped up everyone involved in a crime syndicate, including the man at the top.”
DCI Simon Parkes of the Serious Crime Directorate said: “The crime group which Venner headed has been decimated and ultimately his arrogance was his downfall. Others criminals in the Colchester area aspired to his lifestyle. Today we have shown our determination to target those who run such criminal networks.“
Reviewing lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service, Lorraine Irwin said: "These men are guilty of supplying both Class A and Class B drugs in very large quantities in and around the Colchester area. These men are serious co-conspirators who worked together to supply the drugs. We are pleased this case has reached a successful conclusion and that these dealers have been removed from the streets of Essex."