The group was sentenced following a lengthy investigation by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate. It resulted in nine men and one woman being charged with offences that spanned Kent, Essex and Lincolnshire. The ring leaders, Kazeem Akinfolarin and Michael Odedina, were both jailed for almost 10 years at Maidstone Crown Court on Wednesday 18 August 2021.
On the same day Andrew Huntley, Mark Downes, Peter Symonds, Romel Fregis, and Francis Sunney-Ackon were also jailed while Batare Evwierhoma received a suspended sentence. Amy Newport is awaiting sentencing.
They were each charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs, namely crack cocaine and heroin. Jack Smith, 26, of The Mound, Eltham, was previously sentenced for an offence of money laundering and was handed a community sentence in January 2020. Between July and December 2017, Akinfolarin and Odedina ran the ‘TJ’ and ‘Alpo’ drug lines supplying crack cocaine and heroin to drug users.
They recruited drug runners, Evwierhoma, Huntley, Fregis and Sunney-Ackon to distribute the drugs in Kent and Essex using the TJ line, while Downes, Symonds and Newport sold cocaine and heroin in Grimsby as part of the ‘Alpo’ drug line.
As the investigation progressed, detectives found Smith had allowed his bank account to be used to transfer funds to Huntley who then hired vehicles that were used to travel throughout the different counties supplying the drugs.
The criminal gang used an address in Albatross Road, Strood, to store a safe which, when searched by officers in December 2017, was found to contain 299 wraps of crack cocaine and 302 wraps of heroin. The investigation initially targeted the ‘TJ’ line, which was found to be operating in the Medway towns. As officers gathered evidence they identified the drug network extended into other counties. Further enquiries established the identities off all those involved in the criminal enterprise and on 10 October 2018 they were arrested following the execution of several search warrants. The gang members received the following sentences: • Kazeen Akinfolarin, 31, of Worcesters Avenue, Enfield, Middlesex, was sentenced to nine years and eight months • Michael Odedina, 31, of Pearl Lane, Gillingham, was sentenced to nine years and eight months • Romel Fregis, 28, of Eastcombe Avenue, Charlton, was sentenced to three years and seven months • Andrew Huntley, 30, of Hopedale Road, Charlton, was sentenced to eight years and one month • Francis Sunney-Akon, 28, of Shaw Road, Bromley, was sentenced to two years and three months • Mark Downes, 47, of Normandy Road, Cleesthorpe, was sentenced to three years and one month • Peter Symonds, 48, of Montague Street, Cleethorpes, was sentenced to two years and nine months • Batare Evwierhoma, 27, of Birkhall Road, London, was sentenced to 18 month suspended sentence and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work Investigating officer Detective Constable Dean Sycamore said: ‘This was an organised criminal network which distributed and supplied crack cocaine and heroin across England, targeting vulnerable drug users in order to make significant financial gains. ‘Through our investigation we estimate that hundreds of thousand pounds worth of drugs was sold as part of this criminal network. Drugs not only ruin the lives of those using it, but affects their families and adversely affects communities that suffer associated crime. ‘We work hard to tackle the supply and distribution of drugs across Kent and Medway and beyond and will continue to do so.’ • Amy Newport, 32, of Redbourne Road, Grimsby, was also charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs and is due to be sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on Tuesday 21 September.