Two leading figures in a £1 million wholesale heroin distribution operation out of Northamptonshire have been handed lengthy prison sentences.
Jamie Riviere, 29, of Fulmar Lane, Wellingborough, took over the Northamptonshire arm of a class A drug buying and selling network in June 2014, shortly after its previous leader, his brother Nicholas Riviere, was arrested and imprisoned.
The operation involved buying what the Crown Prosecution Service called ‘import grade heroin’ from a supplier in London, 37-year-old Dion Oakley, which would then be ‘bulked out’ in Wellingborough for onward sale.
But Yesterday Northampton Crown County heard how Riviere was subject to intense police observation after taking over as boss of the gang, with officers monitoring calls between him, his suspected suppliers and others under his command, as well tracking the gang’s car movements.
In total, the force witnessed seven individual ‘transactions’ between June and October 2014, where people working for Riviere exchanged high quantities of money for 1kg blocks of ‘high purity’ heroin worth £55,000 each at locations around the country.
Prosecutor Adrian Langdale said that the 7kg of drugs in total could be bulked to make ‘up to three times that amount’, and fetch a ‘street value’ of more than £1 million.
The net started to close in around the operation in August, 2014, when a drug courier, Caroline Brown, 37, of Flitwick, Bedfordshire, was pulled over by police and found to be carrying 1kg of the import grade’ heroin in a black bag in her car.
Following her arrest, she was replaced by another courier, Tristian Harper, of Church Street, Wellingborough, who was also pulled over by police on September 5, and was found carrying a 1kg of the pure grade heroin stuffed inside a kettle.
Phone records, CCTV and movements tracked on the police ANPR cameras linked Riviere both to his supplier, Oakley, and to the two couriers.
Riviere and Oakley were arrested on October 15, with police seizing more than £11,000 of cash from Oakley’s address.
Yesterday at Northampton Crown Court, Riviere was sentenced for conspiring to supply class A drugs alongside supplier Oakley, of Kent, and courier Tristian Harper.
Riviere received 10 years and 8 months, Oakley received 12 years and Harper five years and three months.
Each will serve half of that term in prison and the rest on licence.
Sentencing them judge Sally Tayton QC, said: “This case concerns a significant operation which concerns the regular supply of heroin over a period of two to three months.
“The level of purity is typical of that found at the level of importation.
“Ultimately the amount hitting the streets would have been around 14 to 21 kilogrammes.”
And directly to Riviere, she said: “This was a substantial commercial operation which involved significant gain for you and others.”
In mitigation for Riviere, Matthew Lowe said that his client had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
He added that there was no evidence to suggest that Riviere was ‘instrumental in setting up the organised crime group’.
“He has joined a pre-existing crime group with pre-exisitng contacts,” Mr Lowe said. “He has stepped into the breach after his brother was remanded in custody.”
For Oakley, Stanley Riez argued that the Crown Prosecution Serviced could not be sure each of the seven witnessed ‘drug transactions’ had involved the sale of 1kg, and argued that his client’s sentence should reflect that.
“He said: “If there is a degree of uncertainty, I would advise you to give my client the benefit of the doubt,”
And he added that Oakley had also shown signs of trying to reform during his remand in custody, and has since become a listener for the Samaritans while in prison.
Trisitian Harper was Riviere’s car mechanic before being recruited as a courier by the gang leader.
In his mitigation, Colin Charvill said the 34-year-old only agreed to play a part in the gang as a result of being out of work for a long period of time, which he attributed to Harper’s ongoing health difficulties.
Also sentenced yesterday was courier Caroline Brown on counts of supplying heroin and of possession of heroin with intent to supply. She received only a two year suspended sentence, suspended for a period of two years.
Defending for her Matthew Kirk said she had not given ‘proper consideration’ to the scale of the drugs operation when recruited as a result of poor ‘mental health’, which he in turn said was down to her excess ‘cocaine use’ and a series of catastrophic relationships’ with men.