Major cocaine operation used Northamptonshire golf club as meeting point to exchange cash and drugs

Gang members used an area of hardstanding outside Rushden Golf Club to exchange large quantities of cocaine, a court heard yesterday.

Gang members used an area of hardstanding outside Rushden Golf Club to exchange large quantities of cocaine, a court heard yesterday.

One of the biggest drug rings ever uncovered in Northamptonshire used the car park of a quaint county golf course to hand over thousands of pounds worth of ‘import strength’ cocaine.

In total, 21 people appeared in the dock of Northampton Crown Court yesterday charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine following a major police sting at the start of 2015.

The sentencing hearing, which opened on Tuesday and is likely to conclude on Monday, involved members of a nationwide drug-selling gang with links to Northamptonshire, Manchester and the Luton area.

Raids were carried out at 25 addresses on January 28 and 29, with £32,000 seized in cash alongside an imitation firearm.

Yesterday prosecutor Adrian Langdale opened the crown’s case against those in the Northamptonshire arm of the operation, which was led by 33-year-old Stuart Bailey, of Bryant Road, Kettering.

The court heard how police tracked Bailey, his “right-hand man” Callum Mains, 30, of Raunds, and a drug courier, Amarjit Sembhi, 72, of Hargrave, Wellingborough on three occasions in late 2014, exchanging large quantities of money for what police say was 500g blocks of cocaine.

The drugs had been driven south from a Manchester gang run by Bury man Tuayyab Ulshan, using a black Volkswagen Golf.

But the court heard how the police tailed courier Paul Greenwood on September 11 and October 2 in 2014, meeting with the Northamptonshire gang in a hard-standing outside Rushden Golf Club in picturesque Chelveston.

On the third of those occasions on October 30, police intercepted Sembhi’s car after an exchange within the main golf club car park, finding 500g of cocaine in his footwell at “import strength.”

Mr Langdale said that block would carry a wholesale value of £20,000, but the amount, once cut three times, would have a street value of more than £60,000.

Gang leader Bailey has been on bail since April 2015 on compassionate grounds, as his mother had suffered from a fall.

Prosecutor Mr Langdale said tax records showed only small amounts of legitimate income from Bailey stretching back to 2010. The 33-year-old also has a previous conviction for his involvement in an amphetamine supply chain, out of which Mr Langdale said the defendant lived an “extravagant lifestyle”.

But the court also heard in mitigation how Bailey had “turned his life around” since pleading guilty to the cocaine conspiracy in April, 2015, taking up work as a qualified electrician.

The hearing is due to resume this morning.