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Essex drug gang based in Noak Hill jailed for over 50 years

Michael Read (left) and Mark Gooch run the group (Credit: Essex Police)

Essex Police have taken down an entire organised crime group that was selling drugs across the county.

The group was established in 2019 by Michael Read who liaised with importers to bring large amounts of cocaine into the area. 

Under him was Mark Gooch who managed their drug runners, helped prepare the cocaine and transported their money. 

The operation was ran out of a container in a privately owned yard in Lower Noke Close, in Noak Hill. 

Cash and a gun recovered from the group (Credit: Essex Police)

They planned their illegal activities using an encrypted global communication service that was used exclusively by criminals. 

EncroChat allowed them to send secure phone messages and was used by 10,000 people in the UK alone.  

International law enforcement agencies infiltrated the platform in 2020 and shared the information they uncovered with national police forces. 

This helped specialist detectives identify Read, who used the handle ‘Positivity’, and Gooch who went by ‘Firefingers’. 

They also discovered Stephen Hart was transporting cocaine from bigger suppliers and Craig Phillips was working as a drugs runner. The two men went by ‘Interestingheart’ and ‘Pinkplumber’. 

Jeremy Goldner, Lisa Warner and Mark Scarborough were also members of the group but they did not have any handles. 

Glen Houghton and a suitcase of cannabis found at his address (Credit: Essex Police)

Detectives intercepted messages from the group that showed they had paid more than £100,000 for 3kg of cocaine and sold it for £180,000. 

In other messages they discussed the importation and transportation of tens of kilos of cocaine and shared images of drugs and bags of cash. 

Officers raided several properties in Brentwood, Grays, Wickford and Canvey Island in October 2019. 

They seized thousands of pounds in cash as well as drugs and a firearm. 

Craig Phillips and Stephen Hart (Credit: Essex Police)

Following the raids, 11 people were charged with and later admitted to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and transferring criminal property.

Seven of them were jailed for a total of 55 years and eight months at Basildon Crown Court on Thursday, 9 February. Two others received suspended prison sentences. 

Detective Sergeant Mike Monkton said: “Drugs are a plague upon our society and those involved in their importation and sale are responsible for ruining lives and destroying communities.

“This group made hundreds of thousands of pounds from causing misery to others.”

Mark Scarborough and Perry Revell (Credit: Essex Police)

Michael Read, 54, of Crouch Road, Grays, was given 11 years and three months while Mark Gooch, 38, of Sandringham Road, Pilgrims Hatch, received nine years and nine months.

Craig Phillips, 44, of Buckles Lane, South Ockendon, was jailed for five years and ten months while Mark Scarborough, 35, of Rochford, got three years and four months. 

Stephen Hart, 54, of Herne Bay, also admitted to possession of a prohibited firearm and producing Class B drugs and was sentenced to nine years and five months. 

Perry Revell, 40, of Halesworth was given five years and ten months after also admitting to money laundering. 

Glen Houghton, 41, of Lowestoft, admitted to possession with intent to supply Class B drugs and was sentenced to nine years and five months. 

Jeremy Goldner, 54, of Edgware and Lisa Warner, 45, of Canvey Island were given suspended sentences. 

For more on this story, and the latest on our other local and national news, listen to Time 107.5FM

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