Harrogate cocaine & cannabis ring jailed for over 31 years
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Four members of an organised crime group (OCG) operating a county lines drugs network in Harrogate and the surrounding areas have been jailed for a total of 31 years and five months.
Their activities were uncovered by ‘Operation Logic’, a police investigation into the supply of cocaine and cannabis in Harrogate and Rochdale, Greater Manchester, which commenced in September 2021.
Appearing at Leeds Crown Court on Monday 14 August was the leader Ermal Biba, alongside key members of the group, Allaman Tatariku, Klajdi Lleshi, and Adam Sarkowski.
39-year-old Biba of Trafalgar Court, Harrogate, was jailed for 13 years and six months. His sentence was a result of two investigations. One into the supply of cocaine in 2019 by the Yorkshire & Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit and one in into the supply of cocaine and cannabis in 2021/22 led by North Yorkshire Police.
26-year-old Tatariku of Chatsworth Grove, Harrogate was jailed for seven years and one month.
23-year-old Lleshi of Kinloss Court, North Circular Road, Barnet, London was jailed for six years and three months.
41-year-old Sarkowski of Wedderburn Close, Harrogate was jailed for four years and seven months.
A fifth man, 45-year-old Gavin Woodley of Fairfax Avenue, Harrogate was given a suspended sentence in March 2023 after pleading guilty to allowing a premises to be used under the ‘Misuse of Drugs Act.
Biba, Tatariku, Lleshi and Sarkowski pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply class A and class B drugs.
The court heard evidence gathered by North Yorkshire Police’s ‘Operation Logic’ linking members of the OCG to drugs supply, and communications with customers.
The operation led police to Ashfield Road, Harrogate on 5 May 2022 where suspects Biba, Tatariku and Lleshi were discovered. After attempting to escape and assaulting officers, they were all arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class A and class B drugs. Drugs and related items were seized along with cash and cannabis growing equipment.
A search of Adam Sarkowski’s home resulted in mobile phones and sim cards being seized. These revealed valuable information about county lines, drug-dealing activity and vehicles used, as well as many messages with customers relating to purchasing drugs. Forensic tests on cash found at the property also revealed cocaine traces.
A search of the address where Gavin Woodley lived revealed a small amount of cocaine and cannabis, as well as a Taser stun gun and a blank-firing pistol. He was initially linked to the investigation through mobile phone data, as well as being the named tenant for Ashfield Road.
Evidence uncovered by Operation Logic also connected Biba, Lleshi and Woodley to a large-scale cannabis production facility at Sherwood Business Park, Queensway, Rochdale. This site, uncovered by Greater Manchester Police, grew cannabis with a street value of £1,440,000.
Speaking about the sentence passed against the group today investigating officer Detective Constable Sinead Brocken, said:
"We are delighted to have put a stop to this Organised Crime Group, headed by Biba, who were responsible for supplying cocaine and cannabis to Harrogate and the surrounding areas for a period spanning between 2019 to 2022.
“Drug rings such as this have a ruinous effect on our society leaving a trail of misery. These individuals acted out of pure selfishness, disregarding the damage caused by drugs to both our communities and those addicted to them.
“Today's positive results are a reminder that North Yorkshire Police will not accept this type of criminality and should send a strong message out that myself and my colleagues will work relentlessly to put a stop to operations such as these.”
Reporting information about drug-related crime
Anyone with any information about suspected drug-related crime are urged to make a report via the North Yorkshire Police website or by calling 101, select option 1, and speak to the Force Control Room
Always dial 999 if an emergency response is required.
If you would prefer to remain anonymous, please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or make a report online at crimestoppers-uk.org.
The signs of drug dealing can include
Increased callers at a property at all times of the day or night
Increase in cars pulling up for short periods of time
Different accents at a property
Anti-social behaviour at a property
Not seeing the resident for long periods of time
Drug-related rubbish – small plastic bags, syringes
Windows covered or curtains closed for long periods