Officers from the Organised Crime Partnership, a joint National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police Service unit, identified Taulant Stoica as the fixer behind a number of drug deals in London and Bristol, arranged on encrypted messaging platform EncroChat.
Stoica, 35, from Bexleyheath in Kent, used the EncroChat handle ‘Palefog’ to organise the handover of drugs by fellow Albanians Muhamet Quosja and Eduard Hadjini. They acted as runners for Stoica and were jailed for 10 years and three years respectively last year.
Quosja, 30, was arrested by OCP officers on 13 October 2020, when he was found in possession of £23,000 in cash.
A handgun with 20 rounds of ammunition and 11 kilos of cocaine, with a street value of £1.1 million, were subsequently recovered from his home in Ilford.
Quosja’s phone was searched and contained a contact called ‘Daku’ (an Albanian term for friend) which matched Stoica’s number. Messages show an exchange between the two men, with Stoica directing Quosja to a postcode to handover cocaine.
Hadjini, 39, who lived close to Stoica in Abbey Wood, was arrested on 1 April 2021 after OCP officers followed him in his car to Bristol. It had been loaded with one kilo of cocaine which he was due to handover to Thomas Scarrett, 28.
Hadjini was arrested alongside fellow dealer Sokol Ajazi, 36, around a month after the Bristol exchange.
Officers searched a garage, seizing three more kilos of cocaine. The combined value of these drugs, plus an additional two kilos Hadjini handed to another dealer the previous month, could have fetched around £360,000 if sold on UK streets.
Ajazi and Scarrett were both arrested and later sentenced to 5 years and 2 months and six years respectively.
Stoica himself was detained by OCP officers near his home on 30 June 2021. He had three mobile phones and more than £4,000 in his possession. A further £12,000 was recovered from his house.
He was subsequently charged with three counts of conspiracy to supply cocaine and one count of money laundering. He admitted these offences at Woolwich Crown Court on 6 October last year and was jailed for 10 years at the same court today (15 February).
Andrew Tickner, from the Organised Crime Partnership, said: “Stoica was pulling the strings behind these drugs deals which, had they not been prevented by OCP officers, would have resulted in cocaine flooding our streets.
“Through this strong partnership between the NCA and the Met, we’re able to target those higher up the drug supply chain and having a significant impact at a local level.
“This investigation demonstrates the commitment of the OCP to ensure drug dealers and money launderers like Stoica are brought to justice.”