Rye man jailed after police seize £480k worth of cocaine

A £480,000 cocaine seizure has led to two men – one from Rye – being jailed for a combined total of 13 and a half years, Kent Police confirmed.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 10:25 am

Evaldas Stanionis, 52, of Cinque Ports Street in Rye, and Arunas Zemaitis, 49, from Lithuania, were each part of an organised crime group which plotted to supply cocaine in Kent, police said.

Kent Police said their offending came to an end after officers observed them handing over three kilos of the substance at an M25 service station.

Both men were sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

Evaldas Stanionis (left) and Arunas Zemaitis. Picture: Kent Police SUS-210907-101144001
Evaldas Stanionis (left) and Arunas Zemaitis. Picture: Kent Police SUS-210907-101144001

Stanionis admitted four counts related to the supply of cocaine, cannabis and amphetamine, police said. He was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.

Zemaitis, 49, from Lithuania, admitted being concerned in the supply of cocaine, according to police. He was given a six year jail sentence.

Kent Police said: “The successful prosecution of each offender came following a specialist policing operation carried out by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.

“On 27 November 2020, officers working on the case observed Stanionis leaving his home address to travel to the Clacket Lane service station in a Volvo V40. Once there, he stopped in the car park and stood outside his vehicle.

The seized cocaine. Picture: Kent Police SUS-210907-101134001

“Officers then witnessed Zemaitis approaching the Volvo, carrying a backpack, before he sat in a rear passenger seat while Stanionis kept watch. He then exited the vehicle and each offender went their separate ways.

“Stanionis was followed back to Chatham and was approached by plain clothed officers after he stopped in a car park in New Cut.

“The officers then searched his vehicle and found a bag which Zemaitis had left in the back.

“It contained three food boxes which were considerably heavier than they should have been. Each one was opened and found to contain a block of cocaine which each weighed a kilogram.

“Three mobile phones were also seized and quantities of amphetamine and cannabis were found at his home in Rye, East Sussex.

“The cocaine is estimated to have a street value of up to £480,000, with the amphetamine having an estimated street value of around £8,500.”

Zemaitis, a lorry driver for a firm based in Lithuania, was seen returning to a lorry park at the same service station, police said. Checks on his vehicle showed he had arrived in Dover, via Dunkerque in France, several hours earlier.

Before detaining him, police said it was necessary to carry out additional enquiries. These enquiries, which included making checks on Stanionis’ phone, showed the pair had regularly been in contact to discuss the transportation of drugs.

With the evidence needed to make an arrest, Zemaitis was arrested on November 29 while he attempted to board a ferry in Dover, police said.

Detective Inspector Emma Lawry, a senior investigating officer for the case, said: “These two men were part of a sophisticated and well organised crime group that plotted to supply class A substances in our county.

“Despite their sophisticated pattern of offending, our serious crime detectives were able to unravel their schemes to make money and put together a comprehensive set of evidence which left no one in any doubt of their guilt.

“The drugs seized will now be destroyed, which is a fantastic result for our communities. These substances would have made their way onto our streets and, once sold, would have provided a lucrative return for the offenders. Instead, an organised group of offenders have taken a considerable financial hit.”