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Gang leader jailed for importing cocaine into Essex

Russell Hands is the tenth gang member to be jailed (Credit: Essex Police)

The leader of an organised crime group that imported cocaine into Essex has been jailed for 11 years and two months. 

Russell Hands, 44, was a senior leader of a drug dealing gang that operated out of a privately owned yard in Lower Noke Close, Noak Hill.

He contacted importers and arranged the collection of large quantities of cocaine. 

The group was discovered after law enforcement agencies cracked an encrypted messaging network used by criminals worldwide. 

One of the messages they intercepted showed the gang paid more than £100,000 for 3kg of cocaine in March or April 2020 and sold it for £180,000. 

Officers arrested eleven people in October 2020 after carrying out a series of warrants in Grays, Brentwood, Wickford and Canvey Island.

Hands admitted to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and transferring criminal property when he previously appeared at Basildon Crown Court. 

He was the tenth member of the gang to be sentenced on Wednesday 30 March. So far, they have been jailed for a total of more than 66 years. 

Detective Sergeant Mike Monkton said: “Hands was a senior figure in the organised crime group and no doubt they thought they were untouchable.

“However, we are unrelenting in our pursuit of criminals who cause harm in our communities and profit off the back of other people’s misery.

“The law caught up with Hands and his associates and the majority are now behind bars.

“We are also looking to recover money they made from their crimes under the Proceeds of Crime Act.”

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

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