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Gang who ran Swansea drugs network jailed for over 52 years

Five men who were part of an Organised Crime Group have been jailed after it was uncovered they were involved in trafficking and importing multiple kilograms of class A and B drugs across the UK.

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Operation Wizard was an investigation conducted by South Wales Police’s Force Intelligence & Organised Crime Unit into the drug trafficking activities of Shane White and his gang.

White, aged 34 from Port Talbot, was the head of the gang and much of the cocaine he intended to import and supplied ended up on the streets of south Wales.

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White was working in partnership with Steven Semmens, age 39 from Port Talbot, but was based in Spain for much of the conspiracy period.

A kilogram of cocaine recovered from White’s mobile device, which was geo-located to one of his addresses, and identified as the kitchen counter within the address (Image: South Wales Police)

It was Semmens’s job to source large quantities of cocaine from his Colombian drug cartel associates whilst in Spain. He would send videos back to White in the UK of cocaine, sometimes in excess of more than 50 kgs at a time.

These videos went on to be used to advertise the cocaine for sale in the UK.

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Five kilograms of cocaine, embossed with an ‘Ace of Spades’ logo, sent from Semmens in Spain to Shane White in the UK in August 2021, two days before Shane White’s arrest. ‘Elvis’ was White’s pseudonym on encrypted messaging platforms (Image: South Wales Police)
Nine kilograms of cocaine, embossed with a Batman logo, sent from Semmens to White in December 2020 (Image: South Wales Police)

White’s customers

White had several potential customers for the imported cocaine, with whom he discussed transportation routes for the Cocaine to arrive into the UK from Spain, often via Amsterdam or Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Richard Gerrard, aged 43 from Lancashire, facilitated the supply of cocaine to White in south Wales, as and when White’s own stock was running low.

Another of White’s customers was Andrew Botto, aged 34 from Swansea. Botto was head of his own group with a separate customer base in Swansea.

Covert officers from South Wales Police followed Botto on numerous occasions between January and March 2021, when he attended at a lockup container on Penfilia Terrace in Brynhyfryd, Swansea.

When officers arrested Botto in May 2021, they searched the lockup he had been attending, and found a kilogram of cocaine, along with packaging containing trace amounts of cocaine, consistent with another kilogram quantity of cocaine.

Botto was forensically linked to this container and the cocaine.

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Kilogram of cocaine recovered from Botto’s lockup in May 2021 (Image: South Wales Police)
Andrew Botto travelling to and stopping at his lockup on Penfilia Terrace, Swansea in January 2021 (Image: South Wales Police)

White and Semmens courier

White and Semmens used their courier, Ieuan Williams, age 37 from Port Talbot, to deliver their kilogram commodities of cocaine to their customers.

Williams also had the task of collecting drug debts on behalf of White.

Total

It was found that White, Semmens and their OCG conspired together to import 10 kilograms of cocaine into the UK, and supplied a further eight kilograms in the South Wales area which they had sourced within the UK. The majority of this cocaine was destined to be supplied on the streets of South Wales.

Combined, the 18kg of cocaine would have had a street value in the UK estimated to be between £2m and £2.5m.

Other offences

As well as cocaine, White was involved in the lucrative business of importing and supplying class B Cannabis in the south Wales area. One of his street dealers was Luke Thomas, 23 years, from Bridgend, South Wales.

On Thursday 29th December 2022 at Swansea Crown Court, the following individuals received a total of 52 years and 1 month in custody:

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  • Shane White was sentenced to 15 years 4 months imprisonment for Conspiracy to Supply Class A Cocaine, Conspiracy to Import Class A Cocaine, Conspiracy to Supply Class B Cannabis and Conspiracy to Import Class B Cannabis
  • Steven Semmens was sentenced to 13 years 6 months imprisonment for Conspiracy to Supply Class A Cocaine and Conspiracy to Import Class A Cocaine
  • Andrew Botto was sentenced to 9 years 7 months imprisonment for Conspiracy to Supply Class A Cocaine
  • Richard Gerrard was sentenced to 7 years 8 months imprisonment for Conspiracy to Supply Class A Cocaine and Conspiracy to Import Class A Cocaine
  • Ieuan Williams was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment for Conspiracy to Supply Class A Cocaine
  • Luke Thomas was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with an unpaid work requirement of 180 hours for Conspiracy to Supply Class B Cannabis with White.

Detective Inspector Russ Jenkins from South Wales Police Intelligence and Organised Crime Unit said: “This was a complex and protracted investigation, which resulted in the successful prosecution of a number of organised criminals.

“The web of conspirators were spread far and wide, crossing national borders and continents. As a direct result of this investigation, South Wales Police are still actively engaging with other UK Police Forces and the National Crime Agency, along with our international partners to disrupt the activities of those who seek to flood the streets of South Wales and the wider UK with Cocaine.

“We are committed to tackling the most serious organised criminals who affect our communities. I would urge the public to contact us with any information they have. It may be the key piece of the jigsaw to assist us in prosecuting these serious and organised criminals.”

(Lead image: South Wales Police)

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