Drug gang members jailed for money laundering

Solomon Cobourne SUS-150730-172120001
Solomon Cobourne SUS-150730-172120001

Three people have been sentenced at Brighton Crown Court for money laundering offences, following a police investigation into the distribution of £20m of cocaine in Bexhill and London.

Ann-Marie Jones, 29, of Ealing Road, Brentford, London, was given a 12-month community service order with 80 hours unpaid work, Paul Leslie Hogarth, 38, of Milton Avenue, Harlesden, London, was sentenced to two years suspected for two years with 250 hours community service order and Letesha Franklin, 29,of Pine Road, Cricklewood, London, was given an eight-month sentence suspended for one year with 120 hours community service order.

Chanice Rose, 31, of High Street, Harlesden, London, will be sentenced at a later date as she was ill and unable to attend the hearing.

At the trial in May the jury failed to agreed on a verdict in relation to a fifth person, Samantha Franklin, 35, of Milton Avenue, Harlesden, London and she was therefore acquitted.

The sentences for the four follow an investigation, codenamed Operation Bronzo, by the Sussex Police Serious Organised Crime Unit, into the distribution of cocaine in the Bexhill area between 2011 and 2014.

The five sent numerous cash transfers, totalling £259,342.94, from London to Los Angeles as part of a highly organised drugs operation, as payments for services of a man in LA who sourced and shipped kilo quantities of cocaine.

Jones sent nine cash transfers totalling £9,432.94 from the UK. She also sent an additional transfer of $3,250 direct to LA while she was in Jamaica.

Rose sent five cash transfers totalling £7,150.

Hogarth sent 35 cash transfers totalling £74,321.

Franklin sent 12 cash transfers totalling £26,000.

Between June and September 2011, 15 identical packages were delivered by a courier firm to three separate addresses in Bexhill.

The last package was intercepted by police and was found to contain a kilo of cocaine at 90 percent purity and valued at £178,200 in potential street value.

The organisers used a local criminal network to receive and distribute the drugs.

Police enquiries soon established that the actual intended recipient for the intercepted package was Rorey Rose, husband of Chanice Rose.

Rose had been seen with another man at an address in Bexhill. After the pair left, police executed a Misuse of Drugs Act warrant and recovered a quantity of crack cocaine.

Rose then disappeared from Bexhill and subsequently hunted by Sussex Police.

In December 2013 he was stopped by police in London and arrested for unrelated road traffic offences. He was then further arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to import cocaine.

His flat was searched and evidence was seized, while police enquiries also identified relevant US contacts.

Authorities in the US confirmed that one of the US contacts was subject of a joint Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Los Angeles law enforcement investigation into cocaine being shipped to the UK via a fast courier service.

Large sums of cash had been sent to Los Angeles, Californi,a and police enquiries identified 123 separate cash transfers totalling £259,352.94 sent from London NW10 to Los Angeles between February 2011 and June 2014.

Authorities in Los Angeles confirmed the US contact was collecting the cash transfers. The US contact was being paid via cash transfer for each kilo of cocaine that he shipped to the UK and had shipped one or two packages per week to the UK, each believed to contain kilo quantities of cocaine.

At the hearing on January 28, Judge Niblett accepted an inference from the prosecution that over the course of the conspiracy between February 2011 and June 2014 an estimated £20 million of cocaine in street value had been imported into the UK overall.

Enquiries regarding the cash transfers culminated in several arrests in London. The four being charged with money laundering the total of £259,352.94.

Rorey Rose and Solomon Cobourne, who was living with Ann-Marie Jones when they were arrested, were sentenced earlier this year for their roles in the conspiracy to import cocaine from Los Angeles on to the streets of East Sussex and London.

34-year-old Rose, of Harlesden High Street, North West London, was sentenced at Brighton Crown Court on Wednesday January 28 to 14 years imprisonment. He will also be deported to his native Jamaica on his release from prison.

35-year-old Solomon Cobourne, of Ealing Road, Brentford, West London, who failed to turn up for the trial in November last year, was sentenced to 20 years in his absence and is still being hunted by police in Britain and the Caribbean.

Detective Inspector Gill Sole said: “This has been a complex investigation which has taken over three years and has involved close co-operation with law enforcement in the UK, the United States, and Jamaica.

“It became clear that we were dealing with international criminality which aimed to spread dangerous drugs in London and the Bexhill area, an avenue of supply that has now been completely stopped.”

Detectives are still seeking Cobourne. He is described as black, 6’, of slim build, with a pierced left ear, and a Jamaican accent.

He may be in the north-west London area where he has friends, but might have gone to Jamaica, where active enquiries are currently being made.

His details have also been passed on to Interpol.

DI Sole said: “If you can help find Cobourne email us on 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or call us on 101 quoting Operation Bronzo. You can also call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

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