Domenico Masciopinto was serving a 14-year prison sentence, but was still able to help orchestrate a £30,000 cocaine deal in Bedford by using a mobile phone to contact two associates on the outside.
Jason West sent a runner with nearly a kilo of high quality cocaine from Luton to carry out the deal. Daniel Digiacomo, an old criminal associate of Masciopinto, then met the runner in a supermarket car park and exchanged the drugs for just shy of £30,000 cash.
Our SOCU officers had been tracking Masciopinto’s phone activity and arrested Digiacomo moments after the transaction took place.
West evaded capture for four months and was eventually found living in a £99-a-night luxury serviced apartment in Milton Keynes. Among the items in the flat were around £5,000 in £50 notes and a diamond encrusted Rolex watch.
On Thursday Masciopinto was jailed for seven years, which will be added onto his sentence. West was jailed for six years and eight months, while Digiacomo was sentenced to six years behind bars.
The competitive nature of the drugs market underpins much of the most serious, organised and harmful crime we see in Bedfordshire and across the UK.
The volatility of this market is the principal driver in the escalation of serious violence we have seen in the past few years.
Violent clashes between different gangs are often driven by their desire to increase their drugs supply network, particularly in relation to control over crack cocaine and heroin.
Major organised crime groups involved in human trafficking are often funded by drugs. Children continue to be at risk of exploitation by those involved in county lines.
A focus on county lines has led to a renewed focus on the harm that drugs supply can cause, which is welcome.
But county lines is not a new phenomenon. It is just describing a relatively new model of drug dealing.
As police and other agencies join forces to tackle things such as county lines, serious youth violence and exploitation, it is impossible to ignore the commodity underpinning nearly of this is drugs.
It is imperative that the focus remains on tackling the commodity, especially targeting financial assets to ensure that crime does not pay.
I am proud to say that Bedfordshire Police and the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), which I helped establish, remain committed to tackling this threat.
Since November, major drug dealers in Bedfordshire have been sentenced to almost 160 years in prison as a result of law enforcement action. Further details of these cases are outlined below.
In the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, I would urge people to think about the harm that drugs can cause, and to continue to report information about dealing to us.
If you know or suspect drugs activity is happening please call us on 101 or visit our online reporting centre. All this information is fed into our intelligence systems and plays a big part in tackling organised crime.
You can also report suspicious activity to Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Lay
Head of Intelligence, SOCU, Cyber & Corporate Services
- Domenico Masciopinto, Jason West and Daniel Digiacomo were sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison after a £30,000 cocaine deal in Bedford that was partly organised from behind bars. Read more
- Mohammed Rauf, of Richmond Road, Leighton Buzzard, was sentenced to three-and-a-half-years in prison after pleading guilty to supplying numerous Class A drug deals in the town between May and September 2018. David Nembhard, of Marble Drive, Brent Cross, also received a three-year sentence following the proactive operation by SOCU. Read more
- Shirwa Ali, 23, of Hobart Lane, London, was sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of possession with intent to supply both crack cocaine and heroin. This followed a warrant by officers at an address in Buxton Road, Luton, as part of a crackdown on county lines in Bedfordshire. Read more
- An organised crime group who ran a multi-million pound drugs supply business out of Luton were jailed for almost 100 years, following the largest ever seizure of cocaine in Bedfordshire. The six men from Luton sold Class A drugs to criminal gangs across the UK for onward distribution. They were arrested last year following a proactive surveillance operation by officers from ERSOU. When officers arrested the couriers of the group, 45 kilograms of import grade cocaine, with a street value of almost £5 million, was seized. Read more
- Chavance Christian, 20, of Salisbury Road, Newham in London, and Malek Pobi Da Silva, 20, formerly of Addington Way, Luton, will spend more than 15 years in prison after being found guilty of drugs and firearms offences. This came after Bedfordshire Police’s Boson team executed a warrant at an address in Addington Way and recovered a Glock handgun, three revolvers and a loaded sawn-off shotgun, as well as 42 wraps of heroin and cocaine and 18 grams of skunk cannabis. Read more
- Anthony Richardson, 31, of Limbury Road, Luton, was found guilty of having a “significant role” in the supply of Class A drugs and sentenced to six years. Following a warrant in Hillbrough Crescent, Houghton Regis, officers found a large quantity of cocaine and cash and subsequently a man was sentenced to four and a half years for this. Ongoing investigations into a mobile phone recovered from the warrant led to officers discovering a large amount of text messages to Richardson in relation to a the supply of class A drugs. Read more
- Richard Foster, 41, of Chelsea Gardens, Houghton Regis, was sentenced to four years and eight months in jail after pleading guilty to a conspiracy to supply a Class A drug, namely crack cocaine. He also pleaded guilty to possession of criminal property. Howard Powell, 46, of Farley Fields, Luton, also pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to supply crack cocaine. He was sentenced to four years in prison. The two men were arrested following a raid by SOCU at a property in New Woodfield Green, Dunstable in August. Read more