REVEALED: How police snared Northamptonshire cocaine gang after its supply line collapsed

More cash uncovered from the Palk Road lock-up.

More cash uncovered from the Palk Road lock-up.

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Drugs detectives have revealed how a Northamptonshire cocaine cutting enterprise worth £10.7 million ‘fell apart’ after its Albanian supply line was arrested.

Former teeth whitening company owner Nicholas Riviere, was handed a prison sentence of 14 years and eight months at Northampton Crown Court yesterday, and his trusted lieutenant Zachariah Lovell given the same.

The men ran a cocaine cutting gang from their base in Wellingborough, importing pure grade drugs from an Albanian gang and ‘diluting them’ for onward sale across the East Midlands.

The two heads of the organisation were jailed yesterday alongside a number of their ‘underlings’ Fred Carvalho, Marco Varone, Stuart Hart, Nathan Edghill and Nicholas Ovens.

Information released by the police following the gang’s sentencing has revealed their illegal enterprise began to fall apart in May 2014, when seven members of the Albanian gang were arrested by the Metropolitan Police as they completed an importation into the country.

Officers recovered 40kg of cocaine and 8kg of heroin on that occasion.

Nicholas Riviere

Nicholas Riviere

The following month, Riviere, Lovell and Hart were seen attending a ‘clandestine meeting’ in the Vauxhall area of London.

There they met with Marco Varone and Fred Carvalho, who acted as wholesale suppliers of controlled drugs in the London area.

A little while after leaving the meeting, Hart, who acted as a courier for the gang using his taxi firm, was stopped by police and found in possession of 1kg of high purity cocaine.

A warrant was executed at a small garage on Palk Road, Wellingborough, where four bank safes were discovered, containing 2kg of cocaine, 1.5kg of heroin, 115kg of cutting agents and £34,000 in cash.

Zachariah Lovell.

Zachariah Lovell.

Another search was conducted at Hart’s partner’s home, in Weir Close, Wellingborough, and a further £107,000 in cash was found by officers.

A total of 18 people linked to the investigation were subsequently arrested in Leicester, High Wycombe and Northamptonshire. Searches of 21 premises resulted in further discoveries of cocaine, heroin and £70,000 in cash.

Carvalho’s home in south London contained equipment for the mixing and pressing of adulterated cocaine.

The street value of drugs seized during the operation were estimated at £10.5m worth of cocaine and £343,000 of heroin.

A safe found in the Palk road garage containing a drugs cutting agent.

A safe found in the Palk road garage containing a drugs cutting agent.

Riviere, Lovell, Hart and Edghill were each charged with two counts of conspiring to supply class A drugs, one count relating to cocaine and the other to heroin.

Ovens was charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine only.

Varone was charged with supplying cocaine, and Carvalho faced two counts of being concerned in the supply of cocaine and being in possession of cocaine with intent to supply.

• Nicholas Riviere, 36, of Roman Way, Rushden, Northants, was sentenced to 14 years and eight months each for both counts, to be served concurrently

• Zachariah Lovell, 35, of Mosel Close, Wellingborough, Northants was sentenced to 14 years and eight months each for both counts, to be served concurrently

• Stuart Hart, 39, of Charles Street, Wellingborough, Northants, was sentenced to nine years and four months on both counts to be served concurrently

Stuart Hart.

Stuart Hart.

• Nathan Edghill, 27, of Pope Street, Wellingborough, Northants, was sentenced to nine years and four months each for three counts, to be served concurrently

• Nicholas Ovens, 39, of Kiln Way, Wellingborough, Northants, was sentenced to six years in prison

• Marco Varone, 39, of Mount Nod Road, Streatham, London was sentenced to six years and eight months

• Fred Carvalho, 33, of Dorset Road, Lambeth, London, was sentenced to six years and eight months for one count and eight years and eight months for two further counts, to be served concurrently

• Karen Riviere, 57, of Barret Close, Wellingborough, Northants, was sentenced to two years in prison

• Keri Marks, 29, of Whitworth Road, Wellingborough, Northants, was not sentenced today but adjourned for pre-sentence reports

Judge Sally Tayton, in sentencing yesterday, said: “Such Class A drugs as found in this conspiracy are both malicious and addictive. They ruin the lives of addicts and their families.”

Detective Inspector Mark Pattison, from Northamptonshire Police, said:

“Tackling drugs activity is a key objective for us. Targeting organised criminality like this, impacts widely on our communities and as a consequence results in significant low level crime as well.

“As a result of successful working with our east midlands forces as well as other forces we can demonstrates through cases like this that we will come down hard on those involved in criminality.

“I am pleased with the outcome of this case.”

Detective Sergeant Gamble of EMSOU Serious Organised Crime, said: “The five forces of the East Midlands are committed to reducing the threat and risk posed by organised crime groups throughout our region. Operation Tiful illustrates how the forces are able to combat organised criminality throughout the East Midlands region and thereby reduce the harm that this causes to our communities.

“I would like to thank my officers for their hard work and dedication, and all those involved across the country that assisted in this investigation. The sentence received by this group illustrates the serious nature of the offending and the dim view that the Criminal Justice System takes on those involved in the trafficking of dangerous, controlled drugs.”

The Palk Road garage.

The Palk Road garage.

Nicholas Ovens.

Nicholas Ovens.

Fred Carvalho.

Fred Carvalho.

A drugs counting machine found in the Wellingborough lock-up on Palk Road in the town.

A drugs counting machine found in the Wellingborough lock-up on Palk Road in the town.