EIGHT members of a drugs gang who were caught with cocaine and cannabis worth a combined £5.2million have been jailed for a total of almost 70 years.

The Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) carried out a large scale investigation into the shipment and distribution of the drugs from Essex across the eastern region in 2014.

In total ERSOU recovered 3.69 tonnes of cannabis resin worth £4.6million on a furniture lorry, along with two seizures of cocaine with an estimated street value of £600,000.

Eight of the 11 men convicted of roles within the organised gang were sentenced this week.

Officers initially stopped a taxi in Braintree on September 30, 2014, and discovered 1kg of cocaine with a purity of 75 per cent in a laptop bag.

Darren Mullarkey, 26, was the sole passenger in the vehicle and was arrested.

Detectives managed to link Mullarkey, of Earlsferry Way, North London, to Luke Jewitt, 30, of The Oak, Chapel Hill, Braintree, Louis Dibra, 32, of Juniper Close, Halstead, and Robert Strachan, 38, of Parkhurst Road, North London.

On October 10, 3.69 tonnes of cannabis resin was seized from the trailer of a lorry at Temple Wood industrial estate in Essex.

It had travelled from Malaga, Spain, and the drugs were found concealed in 187 boxes hidden behind low-quality furniture.

Five men were arrested, including two associates of Thomas Aldridge, 31, of Woodlands Park Drive, Great Dunmow, who had connections with Xpert Storage where the drugs were seized.

The men were released after inquiries confirmed they were not aware of the drugs. Investigations revealed there had been 10 previous deliveries to the site.


On 20 November 20, 2014, Patrick Carroll, 31, of Templar Road, Braintree, and Barry Murphy, 57, of Perryfields, Braintree, were arrested outside the Kicking Dickey pub in Dunmow.

Officers discovered 2kg of cocaine and a total of £44,000 in cash.

Carroll is Aldridge’s brother-in-law and was also linked to Dibra, Nderim Muliu, 24, of Cressing Road, Braintree, Stephen Chambers, 45, of Warmdene Road, Brighton, and Mark Hastie, 47, of Halleys Way, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, through phone records.

Aldridge, Jewitt, Dibra, Chambers, Hastie, Muliu, Strachan and Mallarkey were sentenced to a total of 68 years and seven months at St Alban's Crown Court on July 12.

Carroll, Murphy and Aston Walker had been previously jailed in 2014 and 2015 for a total of 16 years and four months.


Det Sgt Daren Guess, of ERSOU, said: "This was a sophisticated drugs importation and distribution network which had the potential to flood the eastern region with cocaine and cannabis.

"This case once again shows the determination ERSOU has in dismantling organised crime groups who spread fear and misery through our communities.

"The sentences also show how serious the courts take such offending and should serve as a stark warning to anyone involved in such criminality."


The following men all admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine Thomas Aldridge,was jailed for 11 years and three months. He also admitted evasion of prohibition on the importation of 3.69 tonnes of cannabis resin.

  • Louis Dibra was sentenced to nine years.
  • Robert Strachan was jailed for five years and four months.
  • Nderim Muliu was sentenced to six years and eight months. He also admitted possessing a fraudulent document.
  • Darren Mallarkey was sentenced to three years and four months.

The following men were convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine following a trial:

  • Luke Jewitt was cleared of evasion of prohibition on the importation of 3.69 tonnes of cannabis following trial, but was convicted of the cocaine charge and jailed for 10 years.
  • Mark Hastie was jailed for 11 years.
  • Stephen Chambers was sentenced to 12 years.

Patrick Carroll, 31, of Templar Road, Braintree, Barry Murphy, 57, of Perryfields, Braintree, and Aston Walker, 34, of Chelmsford Road, South Woodford had already been jailed for between five and six years each.

Walker was arrested after police discovered 1.2kg cocaine hidden in the dashboard of a car he was driving in Upminster in October 2014.

All three admitted possession of cocaine with intent to supply. Carroll was also convicted of possessing criminal property while Murphy admitted possessing cannabis.