Members of an organised crime group in Aberystwyth which supplied and dealt cocaine, MDMA, ketamine and cannabis in the university town have been jailed.
Wales Online reported “The Class A and B drugs were provided by an organised group based in North Wales via suppliers in Liverpool.
The wider conspiracy to supply drugs between January 2014 and June 2017 was said by prosecutor Andrew Jones at Swansea Crown Court to involve a “staggering” quantity.
Remote stashes in rural locations were used to store the substances, which were then couriered into South West Wales.
The illegal activity, which also involved large amounts of heroin being brought into Llanelli, was ended as part of Dyfed-Powys Police’s Operation Ulysses.
Estimates of the amount of cocaine which came into Aberystwyth varied.
Judge Paul Thomas QC said he would sentence on the basis of a quantity of at least 10kg, which would have a street value of around £1 million.
Mr Jones said Joshua Waters headed the Aberystwyth organised group.
“He orchestrated the downstream supply through his own trusted network of sub-dealers,” he said.
Waters, he said, was involved in 50 of the 70 identified trips to bring cocaine south from North Wales, and on two occasions visited the Liverpool suppliers.
Mr Jones said police also found 13g of cocaine and 52g of MDMA at Waters’ home, plus a blank-firing semi-automatic handgun at his lock-up.
The prosecutor said Callum Edwards-Pritchard was the “second in command”, that he had met the head of the North Wales gang six times, received 22 cocaine deliveries, and had refused to give up his mobile phone pin code to police before providing a false one.
Co-defendants Leroy Numa and Liam Antwiss dealt the drugs at street level while a fifth man, Joseph George, became involved much later in the conspiracy, travelling to Liverpool once with Waters and helping to prepare the drugs for sale.
It emerged that Numa, who had gone to study creative writing and film studies at Aberystwyth University before dropping out, had 1,800 pages’ worth of text messages on his phone, including one making violent threats.
His barrister, Dean Pulling, said not all of the texts related to “drug transactions”, and that the one with the threats referred to an altercation his client had got into during a night out.
Dyfed Thomas, for Walters, said his client’s leading role was only “within the Aberystwyth context”, and that neither he nor his group had involved themselves with heroin.
Antwiss’s barrister Ian Ibrahim said he was a street level dealer of cocaine and cannabis at the behest of others, and that the money he made funded his drinking habit.
Mark Stuart, for George, said his client had “performed a very limited function” in the conspiracy, that he had a cocaine habit, and that he had no knowledge that cocaine was being collected on the Liverpool trip.
Waters, 25, of Heol Tyn-Y-Fron, Aberystwyth, and Numa, 22, of Woodstock Road, Manchester, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, MDMA and cannabis; Edwards-Pritchard, 22, of Llanfarian, Aberystwyth, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and Ketamine; George, 24, of Darwen, Lancashire, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and MDMA; Antwiss, 23, of Corporation Street, Aberystwyth, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis.
Judge Thomas sentenced Waters to ten years in prison, describing him as the “leader” of the group and, referring to the blank-firing handgun, that he was “prepared to countenance the intimidation of those who owed you money”.
The judge said Edwards-Pritchard, who received a six-year term, was “effectively running the street dealers”.
He said the defendant’s “blatantly obstructive attitude” regarding the phone pin code counted against him, undermining the remorse that he “purported to express” in a letter.
George was given a four-year sentence, while Numa and Antwiss both received three years and eight months.
Judge Thomas said the defendants would serve half their sentences in prison, with the other half out on licence, and that he had taken into account factors including their basis of plea, age, and efforts to better themselves while on remand or bail.
Addressing Numa and Antwiss, he said: “You were both street level dealers, but that was on a substantial scale in a university town.”
Speaking after the hearing, which concluded four days of Operation Ulysses sentencing involving 28 defendants, Detective Sergeant Rhys Jones, of Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “Today is a jubilant day for the serious and organised crime team – seeing these 28 defendants brought to justice after what was a challenging and demanding prolonged investigation.
“We invested a lot of ourselves into getting this result, spending long periods away from our families in the pursuit of justice. Drugs misuse creates such misery and despair, and causes significant harm to our communities.
“There is a human cost to the trade of supplying drugs, and we will work tirelessly to stop this.
“I hope these sentences send out a clear, unequivocal message to those involved in supplying and distributing drugs – we will take robust action against you, and will use a wide range of tactics available to us to disrupt drug supply and bring you to justice.
“There is nowhere to hide” here.