Dunmow man jailed for his role in Essex drugs ring

Thomas Aldridge

Thomas Aldridge - Credit: Archant

A Dunmow man has been jailed for his role in a drugs gang caught with cocaine and cannabis worth £5.2milllion.

After a large scale investigation, by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), into the distribution of drugs from Essex, eight men were sentenced on Tuesday (July 12) for their parts in a drugs ring.

Officers first stopped a taxi carrying Darren Mullarkey in Braintree in September 2014 and found, in a laptop bag, 1kg of cocaine with 75 per cent purity.

Links were then made between Mullarkey, 26, from Earlsferry Way, North London, to three other men – Luke Jewitt, 30, of The Oak, Chapel Hill, Braintree, Louis Dibra, 32, of Juniper Close, Halstead, and Robert Strachan, 38, of Parkhurst Road, North London.

On October 10, 2014, a lorry, travelling from Malaga, Spain, was stopped at the Temple Wood Industrial Estate, in Essex, and 3.69 tonnes of cannabis resin were found concealed in 187 boxes, hidden behind low-quality furniture.

Five men were arrested, two of whom were associates of Thomas Aldridge, 31, of Woodlands Park Drive, Great Dunmow, who had connections with Xpert Storage where the drugs were seized.

The five were released as they did not know about the drugs.

Most Read

Further enquiries showed there were 10 more deliveries to the site.

On November 20, 2014, Patrick Carroll, 31, of Templar Road, Braintree, and Barry Murphy, 57, of Perryfields, Braintree, were arrested outside The Kicking Dickey pub in Dunmow. Officers found 2kg of cocaine and £44,000 in cash.

Carroll, Aldridge’s brother-in-law, was linked, through phone records to Dibra and three other men - Nderim Muliu, 24, of Cressing Road, Braintree, Stephen Chambers, 45, of Warmdene Road, Brighton, and Mark Hastie, 47, of Halleys Way, Dunstable.

At St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday, Aldridge, Jewitt, Dibra, Chambers, Hastie, Muliu, Strachan and Mallarkey were sentenced to a total of 68 years and seven months.

Prior to the sentencing this week, Carroll was jailed for six years, Murphy was sentenced to five years and four months and Aston Walker, 34, of Chelmsford Road, South Woodford, was given five years in prison for five years. Walker had been arrested after police discovered 1.2kg cocaine hidden in the dashboard of a car he was driving in Upminster in October 2014.

All three had admitted possession of cocaine with intent to supply. Carroll was also convicted of possessing criminal property while Murphy admitted possessing cannabis.

Detective sergeant Daren Guess from ERSOU said: “This was a sophisticated drugs importation and distribution network which had the potential to flood the eastern region with cocaine and cannabis.

“This case once again shows the determination ERSOU has in dismantling organised crime groups who spread fear and misery through our communities.

“The sentences also show how serious the courts take such offending and should serve as a stark warning to anyone involved in such criminality.”