Two drug dealers have been jailed following the seizure of cocaine and almost £65,000 during search warrants in Maidstone and Rochester.
Ross Staines and Lewis Weaver are starting prison sentences totalling almost nine years after an investigation by Kent Police’s Operation Raptor team.
Simultaneous search warrants were executed at their homes on 3 February 2020. Staines was arrested at a property in Maidstone Road, Rochester, where around £60,000 was found in cash bundles. Weaver was detained at his address in Reginald Road, Maidstone, where police recovered around £4,000 in cash, bundled with the same coloured elastic bands as money seized from Staines. A replica firearm and 134 grams of cocaine were also seized.
An investigation revealed both men had been supplying cocaine on behalf of a criminal gang with links to Albania. Despite evidence which also included phone data linking them to known drug users in the Maidstone area, Weaver initially denied any involvement in the supply of drugs. He claimed cocaine seized from his home had been found in a local park whilst he was walking his dog. He added the bundles of cash had been earned through gardening work. Staines made a series of early admissions, telling officers: ‘I’ve had a good run of it, when you’ve been caught you’ve been caught. I’ve had enough of this life, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.’
At Maidstone Crown Court both men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine. Weaver also admitted to a further charge of possessing a Class B drug. On 5 May, Staines was sentenced to five years and eight months’ imprisonment. Weaver received three years and two months.
Investigating officer, Detective Constable James Arnold, said: ‘Staines and Weaver were part of a criminal network which sought to distribute as much cocaine as possible, to users in the Maidstone area. They both played instrumental roles in a supply chain driven by customers texting postcodes to their mobile phones. Both men had been operating in the town for a considerable period of time and it is therefore pleasing that the court has delivered significant custodial sentences. We are committed to targeting those we believe are responsible for the misery and destruction of lives connected to the supply of Class A drugs and have teams of uniformed and plain clothes officers dedicated to pursuing criminals such as Weaver and Staines, who wrongly believe they can do as they please, without consequence.’
Operation Raptor is part of joint strategy between Kent Police and Essex Police designed to tackle emerging criminal gangs, whose members often travel from other areas of the country.