9:58am Tuesday 18th March 2003
Fourteen gang members, including a Grove Park man, involved in a heroin distribution network are behind bars.
Arif Bullici, aged 43, of Stoneycroft Close, was one of the two main targets of a National Crime Squad (NCS) investigation launched in March 2001.
Although Bullici was sentenced in July last year, reporting restrictions prevented us from revealing his involvement in the network until the final two gang members were sentenced at Croydon Crown Court last Tuesday.
Operation Florin focused on heroin sourced from several Turkish suppliers for distribution to Asian criminals in the Midlands and northern England.
Bullici had established links with London suppliers, while the second target of the NCS Abdul Hamid Kayani, aged 49, of Lower Clapton Road, Clapton, had connections in Birmingham.
One deal saw Bullici's associates supply 4kg of cannabis to female gang member Biniwe Ngwenya, aged 30, of Longfield Crescent, Forest Hill.
Gang members were arrested between April and September 2001. Officers seized £2m of drugs and £55,000 cash.
Bullici, was charged with conspiracy to supply heroin and cannabis. He pleaded not guilty but was convicted and sentenced to 20 years with another 18 months to run concurrently, on July 8, last year.
Ngwenya pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis and was sentenced to nine months on January 23.
Kayani pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to supply controlled drugs and heroin but was sentenced to 18 years last July.
Detective Chief Inspector Alex Wood, of the NCS, said: "This result sends a clear message to drug traffickers. The NCS has successfully dismantled a network which was responsible for major drug trafficking between London and the Handsworth area of Birmingham."
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