Dealers in ‘human misery' jailed

Ringleader Ares Agnelli

Ringleader Ares Agnelli

First published in News

THE ‘main man’ in a Swindon drugs gang had been recommended for deportation when he was jailed for similar matters in 2009.

American born Ares Agnelli, who ran the Locks Network peddling heroin and crack cocaine across town, escaped being thrown out of the country as he is an EU citizen.

Now the 26-year-old has been jailed for four years and eight months for his part in the operation which was “trading in human misery”.

And four other men who were involved in the conspiracy are also behind bars after undercover police targeted them in a surveillance operation.

Rahim Moussa, 24, and Barkhad Jama, 29, both said Agnelli, paid them to deal drugs for him. They were jailed for two years eight months.

Valentino Aloba, 24, also got two years and eight months and Gary Turner, 34, three years.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a sixth member of the gang, 23-year-old Shane Harper, after he failed to turn up for the hearing.

Hannah Squire, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court that undercover police had tracked the Locks Network activities and that between June and December last year police used stop and search to keep tabs on the dealers.

From July three officers using the names Jim, Stan and Chez, infiltrated town centre users to make test purchases from the gang.

In September onwards the undercover men bought drugs from all of the defendants by contacting them on mobile phone numbers.

When they met to make the purchases there were often numerous other users waiting to get their fix, and on one occasion they appeared to have sold out.

Police also raided addresses in Cricklade Road and Manchester Road recovering cash and drugs with forensic links to some of the men.

Agnelli, of Graham Street, Turner, of Frobisher Drive, Aloba, of Westcott Place, Harper, of no fixed abode, Moussa, of Gooch Street, and Jama, of West Drayton, Middlesex, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Moussa and Jama, who had no previous convictions, both said they were paid by Agnelli to deal drugs.

Miss Squire said Moussa was only involved for about a month when he was paid £300 and Jama was paid on a less formal basis.

Agnelli was jailed for four years at Snaresbrook Crown Court in April 2009 for supplying drugs and was recommended for deportation, which never took place.

Mike Pulsford, representing him, said he has joint American and Italian citizenship and accepted a ‘managerial role’ in the enterprise, but was not a ‘Mr Big’.

Tristan Harwood, for Aloba, said he also had an Italian background and after losing his job in a kebab house in October took up the offer of work from his co-defendant.

He said he had in the past done a lot of work for a charity called Street Games which is run by Wiltshire Council.

Ann Ellery, for Turner, said he had Crohn’s Disease and had been addicted to drugs for many years and had been offered a place at residential rehabilitation.

Richard Williams, for Moussa, said his client was sorry for what he had done and realised he had let down his family.

Rob Ross, for Jama, said his client made little from the operation and was the only one who told the police what he had done when he was questioned.

Passing sentence, Recorder Ian Lawrie QC said: “Whatever the prompt that might have persuaded you that this was a way to earn money to pay debts to feed your drug habit or to replace good old-fashioned hard work, you were out trading in human misery.”

Police sting led to men’s capture

THE five men jailed for drug offences were caught following an undercover police operation.

Ares Agnelli, 26, of Graham Street, Rahim Moussa, 24, of Gooch Street, Barkhad Jama, 29, of West Drayton, Middlesex, Valentino Alboba, 24, of Westcott Place, and Gary Turner, 34, of Frobisher Drive, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs. They were all given prison sentences, while a sixth man, Shane Harper, 23, of no fixed abode, failed to turn up to the hearing and a warrant for his arrest has been issued.

The men were all part of the Locks drugs network which distributed heroin and crack cocaine in and around Swindon.

The undercover operation ran from June to December last year and involved undercover officers infiltrating the gang and buying drugs.

A number of police raids also took place at addresses in Cricklade Road and Manchester Road.

These latest arrests were the result of police activity under Operation Atlantic – a dedicated team targeting individuals who come into the county to deal class A drugs.

Head of the drugs unit at Wiltshire Police, Sergeant Scott Hargreave, said: “This case is just an example of the policing activity in what is an everyday priority and we will continue to arrest, disrupt and counter drugs traffickers seeking to establish their trade here.

“These individuals bring harm into our communities through drugs and associated crime and violence. Historically, they have seen Wiltshire as a place where they can peddle their trade unchecked.

“Since the inception of Operation Atlantic and a coordinated effort by Wiltshire Police and partner agencies in Swindon and the rest of Wiltshire to tackle these individuals, the success has been remarkable.

“We have intelligence to indicate the drug traffickers from larger cities such as London and Bristol no longer see Swindon and Wiltshire as an ‘easy’ place for them because of the continued police action against them.

“Over the past year we have increased patrols in certain areas and targeted addresses which are believed are being used for drug dealing.”

If anyone has any information which they believe could be helpful they can call the Wiltshire Police drugs helpline on 01793 507900 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where information can be left anonymously.

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