Footballers who ran £260m 'industrial' drugs gang jailed for 104 years as empire collapses ‘like house of cards’

28 May 2024, 13:24 | Updated: 28 May 2024, 17:34

Footballers who ran £260m 'industrial' drugs gang jailed for total of 104 years as empire collapses ‘like house of cards’
Footballers who ran £260m 'industrial' drugs gang jailed for total of 104 years as empire collapses ‘like house of cards’. Picture: Met Police

By Christian Oliver

A group of semi-professional footballers behind an 'industrial scale' £260million cocaine empire have been jailed for a total of 104 years.

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The gang of six's criminal network fell like a "house of cards", police said, after officers stopped one of the men while he was driving a small van filled with 8kg of Class A drugs.

Footage showed one of the drug gang members, Luke Skeete, handing over a holdall of drugs before a police investigation uncovered a further 123kg of cocaine and 224kg of ketamine from storage units in west London.

Officers also seized Skeete's phone and found messages on a secure messaging platform which they used to identify the other members.

CCTV also showed countless hours of the men coming and going from the storage unit with drugs concealed in holdalls and boxes.

Police found 131kg of cocaine
Police found 131kg of cocaine. Picture: Met Police
224kg of ketamine was recovered from storage units in west London
224kg of ketamine was recovered from storage units in west London. Picture: Met Police

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Police said the gang demonstrated and evidenced a sophisticated, professional business model the group were operating to supply cocaine through the UK.

It was found that, between 10 April 2022 and 20 October 2022, the men all conspired to supply in excess of 2.7tonnes of high grade cocaine with an estimated street value of £208,160,000 to £260,200,000.

On 28 September 2023, Specialist Crime officers carried out arrest warrants at addresses linked to the group in London and Birmingham.

All of the individuals in question were located arrested, charged and remanded in custody.

The group have now all been sentenced to over 104 years in jail at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday, May 17, after all six pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply both cocaine and ketamine.

The men pleaded guilty in an earlier hearing to conspiracy to supply controlled class A drugs (cocaine) and conspiracy to supply controlled class B drugs (ketamine).

Adam Pepara, 35, from Solihull, was jailed for 29 years reduced to 24 years; Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick, 29, of North Kensington, was jailed for 26 years and six months reduced to 18 years and nine months; and Jamarl Joseph, 28, from Wembley, was jailed for 26 years and six months reduced to 17 years and six months.

Andrew Harewood, 34, from North Acton, meanwhile, was jailed for 24 years and six months reduced to 16 years and one month; Melchi Emanuel-Williamson, 29, of North Acton, was jailed for 21 years and six months reduced to 14 years; and Luke Skeete, 36, of West Drayton, was jailed for 22 years and six months reduced to 13 years and one month.

Luke Skeete, 36, was jailed for 22 years and six months reduced to 13 years and one month
Luke Skeete, 36, was jailed for 22 years and six months reduced to 13 years and one month. Picture: Met Police
Andrew Harewood, 34, was jailed for 24 years and six months reduced to 16 years and one month
Andrew Harewood, 34, was jailed for 24 years and six months reduced to 16 years and one month. Picture: Met Police
Melchi Emanuel-Williamson, 29, was jailed for 21 years and six months reduced to 14 years
Melchi Emanuel-Williamson, 29, was jailed for 21 years and six months reduced to 14 years. Picture: Met Police
Jamarl Joseph, 28, was jailed for 26 years and six months reduced to 17 years and six months
Jamarl Joseph, 28, was jailed for 26 years and six months reduced to 17 years and six months. Picture: Met Police
Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick, 29, was jailed for 26 years and six months reduced to 18 years and nine months
Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick, 29, was jailed for 26 years and six months reduced to 18 years and nine months. Picture: Met Police
Adam Pepara, 35, was jailed for 29 years reduced to 24 years
Adam Pepara, 35, was jailed for 29 years reduced to 24 years. Picture: Met Police

Police Constable Perry, from Specialist Crime North, said: “The operation we’ve dismantled here is not some minor undertaking, involving a group of chancers – this is a highly organised criminal group who were supplying drugs on an industrial scale throughout the UK.

“The sentences received reflect the gravity of what they had been doing. This is a criminal group who had otherwise promising careers – semi-pro footballers with other jobs and courses they were undertaking – but they were motivated by making money from drugs that fuel misery and violence on our streets.

“Anyone else wondering if they can make cash from this type of activity should take a look at these sentences and think again, because it’s only a matter of time before you are caught.”

Detective Constable Janes, from Specialist Crime North, added: “With Skeete’s arrest we brought this house of cards down.

“After he was detained we secured valuable evidence on his mobile phone, helping us launch another investigation that led to us identifying his conspirators.

"Forensic examination of that device and invaluable CCTV evidence helped us compile a case so compelling that none of them had any choice but to plead guilty.”

Skeete had previously been jailed for 15 years at the same court in July 2023 having pleaded guilty to two counts of possession with intent to supply class A drugs (cocaine), possession with intent to supply class B drugs (ketamine), supplying cocaine, and driving while disqualified.

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