Reading; 18 Sentenced In Operation Against Organised Crime

A total of 18 people have been given sentences totalling more than 90 years following Operation Saffron - a Thames Valley Police investigation into an organised crime group operating in Reading.



The latest of the defendants were sentenced at Reading Crown Court this week following a number of operations carried out by Thames Valley Police to disrupt the 'Ace Crew' - an organised crime group known for selling crack cocaine and heroin in the Oxford Road area of Reading.

Thames Valley Police Serious Organised Crime Unit began a covert operation in February last year targeting the Ace Crew. On 8 October 170 officers from across the Thames Valley executed 22 warrants at addresses in Reading and arrested and subsequently charged 17 suspects who all pleaded guilty.

Det Insp Bruce Riddell, leading the operation, said: "Officers identified a number of drugs networks evidencing Class A drugs dealing of crack cocaine and heroin. The sentences handed down to these people have been the result of coordinated work by a large number of officers across the Thames Valley area. As a result of the operation, resulting intelligence suggests the 'Ace Crew' is no longer the force it once was."

Judge Peter Ross praised the 'meticulously planned and effectively executed' operation. He added: "The way this operation was conducted meant that instead of just getting the street dealers and possibly the middle level dealers, significant gang leaders dealing in big drugs operations have been successfully prosecuted and are now serving long sentences of imprisonment."

Earlier this month Abdul Khan, 28, formerly of Eskin Close, Tilehurst was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison for conspiring to supply a class A drug (heroin). He had been charged and remanded after an address in Reading was searched by uniformed officers and 2kgs of heroin were recovered. He was later charged and pleaded guilty at Reading Crown Court on 14 January.

He was linked to 25 known drug deals during the operation and was identified as a professional drug dealer.

Waheed Khan, 21, from Parkside Rd, Reading pleaded guilty on 14 January  to conspiracy supply class A drugs (cocaine) and was sentenced to six years in prison on 23 April at Reading Crown Court.

Harry Carmichael, 24, formerly of Auckland Rd Reading  pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs (crack cocaine) and was sentenced to 11 years on 31 March.

Adeel Tahir, aged 31, of Westbrook Road, Reading, appeared at Reading Crown Court on 21 February was sentenced to five years for possession of a firearm ? a sawn off shotgun . He pleaded guilty to the offence on Reading Crown Court on 24 January. He was also sentenced to four years' imprisonment after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice. Both sentences were to run consecutively.

Tahir was arrested, charged and remanded on the 4 July 2013 for possession of a firearm, namely a sawn-off shotgun. This was recovered hidden beneath a tyre in a parked vehicle.

Tahir was charged and remanded with DNA evidence linking him to the sawn-off shotgun. Despite initially denying the offence he was caught attempting to pervert the course of justice, by arranging for an associate to offer him a false excuse for the presence of his DNA on the weapon. This plot was uncovered and on 24 January 2014 he pleaded guilty to the initial offence.

In addition the following people have already been sentenced in connection with this operation:

Babar Malik, aged 30, of Coalport Way, Reading, pleaded guilty at Reading Crown Court on 20 December  to the following charges: conspiring with another to supply cocaine, conspiring with another to supply heroin, and two counts of possessing criminal property namely money to the sum of £2,350 knowing it represented proceeds of criminal conduct. He was sentenced at the same court to nine years on 10 January.
Malik was evidenced selling heroin boasting about it being - straight from the mountains of Afghanistan. Large amounts of cash were found hidden in his address along with a £9000 Rolex watch. These were all seized under Proceeds of Crime legislation. He pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to supply Class A drugs; crack cocaine and heroin along with two counts of money laundering. When Malik was sentenced, His Honour Judge Ross commenting that he was one of the 'biggest drug dealers in Reading.'

Rameez Afzal, aged 22, of Catherine Street, Reading was also arrested as part of the same operation; Afzal was identified as a 'street dealer' who was selling deals of heroin and crack cocaine. Afzal pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six years? imprisonment with again His Honour Judge Ross stating 'You were a full time drug dealer and you were the lieutenant of Mr Malik and almost certainly not the only lieutenant.'

Jonathan Cherry, aged 31, of Mason Street, Reading, who received a two year suspended sentence on 31 January after pleading guilty to supplying cocaine and heroin on 11 and 13 March, 2013.

Stacey Best, aged 35, of Southampton Street, Reading, who received a two year suspended sentence on 31 January, after pleading guilty to supplying crack cocaine and heroin on 24 May this year.

Byron Morgan, aged 48, of Linden Road, Reading pleaded guilty to supply drugs on and sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Stephen Browne, aged, 36, (currently at HMP Bullingdon) pleaded guilty to supply drugs and sentenced to 30 months in prison at Reading Crown Court on 6 November.

Mark Jones, aged 38, of Willow Street, Reading pleaded guilty to supply drugs and sentenced to 40 months in prison at Reading Crown Court on 5 November.

Gavin Mackie aged 22, of Severn Way, Tilehurst, Reading pleaded guilty to supply drugs on 19 April and sentenced to 32 months in prison at Reading Crown Court on 25 November.

Matthew Brodie aged 29 of Willow Street, Reading pleaded guilty to supply drugs on 1 May 2013 and was sentenced to 40 months in prison at Reading Crown Court on 25 November.

Jacob Thomas, aged 21, of Cumberland Rd, Reading, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply drugs on 28 May and received a two year suspended sentence.

Daniel Jacobs, aged 19, of Dee Road, Reading, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply drugs on 28 May and received a two year suspended sentence.

Daniel Holt, aged 30, from Stanshawe Road, Reading pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of a class A drug and received a 15 month suspended sentence.

Donovan Gilbert-Smith, aged 18, of no fixed abode pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of a class A drug and was sentenced to 21 months in prison.

Imran Chowdhary, aged 28, from Callington Road, Reading, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of a class A drug was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

Oswald Walker, aged 25, The Crescent , Theale was found guilty of being concerned in the supply of a class A drug  and was given a two year suspended sentence.

Waqas Tahir, aged 26, both of Greencroft Gardens, Reading, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice by arranging for an associate to offer a false excuse for the presence of DNA on a sawn off shotgun. Waqas Tahir was sentenced to five years in prison at Reading Crown Court on 23 April.

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