£10m Wellingborough and Rushden cocaine gang behind bars after year-long police investigation

Leaders of a Northamptonshire drugs gang have been jailed.
Leaders of a Northamptonshire drugs gang have been jailed.
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The kingpins of a £10m cocaine-cutting operation running out of Wellingborough have been handed a combined total of 70 years in prison.

Nicholas Riviere, 36, of Rushden, led a “sophisticated” and “robust” drug gang importing high purity cocaine from Albanian suppliers to Wellingborough to be diluted with a cutting agent and dispatched to dealers across Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and High Wycombe.

Today the former teeth-whitening business owner was handed 14 years and eight months in prison at Northampton Crown Court for conspiracy to supply cocaine.

His trusted lieutenant Zachariah Lovell, of Mosel Close, Wellingborough, given the same.

The drug bosses appeared in the dock alongside a number of their “underlings”, Fred Carvalho, Marco Varone, Stuart Hart, Nathan Edghill and Nicholas Ovens.

The other defendants – all aged in their 30s and from addresses in Wellingborough and London – had roles in delivering and preparing drugs and all received sentences of more than six years, having all previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.

In handing out the prison terms Judge Sally Tayton QC said: “In my view evidence shows that this was a substantial, sophisticated and robust conspiracy in which high purity drugs were received on a regular basis and cut to be sent to gangs in Leicestershire and High Wycombe as well as being sold to local connections in the Wellingborough area.”

The men were arrested after several months of police surveillance between July 2013 and June 2014 monitored them buying, preparing and selling wholesale quantities of heroin and cocaine.

Hart, who ran a struggling taxi firm, was charged with transporting the drugs to the different gangs under the guise of his company.

In total Hart was observed making 23 deliveries of drugs to High Wycombe and 13 to Leicestershire in his taxi between May 13, 2013, and May 1, 2014.

Following the year observing the gang, police officers carried out a series of raids on properties used by the gang and seized drugs from their Wellingborough safe house, which, the Crown Prosecution Service said, had a potential street value of up to £10.5m.

The pure class A drugs, and large amounts of the chemical to cut them with, were found stuffed inside Tumbletots’ bags and Spiderman pillowcases.

Speaking after the court case today Det Insp Greg Maides, the senior investigating officer, said the removal of the Wellingborough gang would have a “significant impact” on the cocaine trade in East Northamptonshire.

“I’m pleased with the result today,” he said. “It gives a clear warning to anyone considering getting involved in the supply of drugs.”

The first group member to be arrested was Hart, at a service station on the A45 on June 3, 2014.

Police arrested the remaining members at various addresses in possession of drugs.

Riviere and Lovell were arrested on June 28 while at a hotel as part of what Mr Langdale described as their “luxurious lifestyle”, “sloshing around in cash.”