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4 June 2015, 13:03
Six men have been jailed for a total of more than 30 years for supplying class A drugs and money laundering in St Albans and Luton.
The men, which included two brothers - Eduart and Antonio Plaku - were charged following an investigation across Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire by officers from Hertfordshire Constabulary's specialist Serious and Organised Crime Group.
The investigation named 'Operation Perilous' ran from June until August last year and focused on the group's involvement in the supply of Class A in St Albans, Luton and surrounding areas along with money laundering offences.
Four of the men were found guilty on Monday ( June 1st) following a trial and were sentenced on Tuesday ( June 2), these include:
Eduart Plaku, 37, of Skyline Place, Luton was sentenced to 6 years in custody for conspiring to possess criminal property.
Antonio Plaku, 25, of Beech House, Cardiff Road, Luton was sentenced to 11 years in custody for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs between 28th July 2014 and 2nd August 2014 and 6 years in custody to run concurrently for conspiracy to possess criminal property on 04th June 2014 and 30th July 2014.
He was also sentenced to 6 concurrent months in custody for possessing a false identification document.
Albert Cena, 29, of Mill Street, Luton was sentenced to 4 years in custody for conspiracy to transfer criminal property.
Stephen Thomas, 44, of Frogmore Street, St Albans was sentenced to 21 months in custody for conspiring to possess criminal property on June 4th.
Two other men - pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing and also received custodial sentences:
Fatjon Shehu, 29, of Park Street, Ampthill pleaded guilty to transferring criminal property and was sentenced to 21 months in custody.
Leonard Hasanaj, 33, of Corncastle Road, Luton pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply and was sentenced to three years and four months imprisonment.
The court heard how on June 4th last year £124,000 was recovered from a sophisticated hiding place in the rear seat of a vehicle on the M1 in Hertfordshire.
Stephen Thomas was driving the vehicle. Passenger Fatjon Shehu pleaded guilty to transferring criminal property and was sentenced to 21 months in custody.
On Wednesday 30th July 2014 police seized £40,960from a taxi on the M1 Hertfordshire. The male occupant ran form the taxi and evaded capture. Antonio Plaku handed the bag containing the cash to this male in Luton prior to the vehicle stopping.
On Saturday 2nd August 2014 police intercepted Leonard Hasanaj prior to entering Skyline Place Luton with a rucksack containing 2 Kg of high grade Class A cocaine.
Antonio Plaku was identified as the intended recipient for the drugs. Leonard Hasanaj pleaded guilty to possession of Class A cocaine with intent to supply.
Detective Inspector Ian Butler from the Serious and Organised Crime Group said:
"Brothers Eduart and Antonio Plaktu were the clear ringleaders in this organised crime group but all of the men who were involved in this had a clear role to play and are now paying for their crimes.
"Drug dealing of any kind is unacceptable on the streets of Hertfordshire. It brings misery to thousands of vulnerable people and their families whilst fuelling serious and organised crimes that operate miles from where these deals are being done and inflict unnecessary suffering within communities.
"The sentences passed on this group of criminals emphasises how seriously the courts view this type of activity. Our message is clear - if you are dealing drugs in Hertfordshire we will find you and bring you before the courts."