United Kingdom

Traveller crime boss caught in Spain after police found £1m of cocaine

The head of an organised crime group which smuggled drugs and cash between Ibiza and Wales has been jailed.

Nicholas Strange, 34, lived on the Spanish island and sourced cocaine sold by his father Neil, 61, and associate Martyn Pagett, 31, from a travellers site in Nantyglo, Blaenau Gwent.

He was arrested in May 2016 by the Guardia Civil, acting on intelligence from the National Crime Agency (NCA), and repatriated to the UK.

NCA officers discovered Strange's role after arresting his father and Pagett in Bristol in 2014 - an operation which saw them recover £125,000 in cash.

Nicholas Strange, 34, lived on the Spanish island of Ibiza and sourced cocaine sold by his father Neil, 61, and associate Martyn Pagett, 31, from a travellers site in Wales

They also found 8kg of high-purity cocaine, with a value to organised crime of up to £280,000 and a potential street value of £960,000, in Pagett's Portakabin at the Cwm Crachen travellers site where he was employed as the site warden.

Nicholas Strange, 34, was sentenced to 10 years in jail.

A further £9,000 was recovered from an address near Reading which was linked to Neil Strange.

The NCA then began a two-year search for Nicholas Strange which culminated in his arrest and placement on remand at HMP Cardiff in June last year.

Nicholas Strange was arrested in May 2016 by the Guardia Civil, acting on intelligence from the National Crime Agency (NCA), and repatriated to the UK

At his sentencing at Cardiff Crown Court, Nicholas Strange, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment after pleading guilty to two counts of supplying class A drugs and one count of money laundering.

Neil Strange, of Paignton, Devon, was previously sentenced to eight-and-a-half years imprisonment for his helping his son smuggle cash back to Ibiza.

Pagett, of Blaina, Blaenau Gwent, is serving eight years imprisonment for handling sales of the cocaine to crime groups across the UK.

John Lewis, lead officer for the NCA, said: 'Nicholas Strange was a crook who stayed in sunny Ibiza and kept his hands clean while his dad did the dirty work.

The NCA officers discovered Strange's role after arresting his father and Pagett in Bristol in 2014, an operation which saw them recover £125,000 in cash

'Taking out his operation led to the imprisonment of several serious and organised criminals and the disruption of their networks. It also denied the criminal economy a lot of cash.

'We were determined to track Strange down and, thanks to our intelligence capabilities and close ties with the Guardia Civil, he is facing the full weight of justice.'

Strange's group had been supplying, among others, Ashley Burgham, aged 28, the head of a Gwent-based organised crime group.

Burgham and 10 of his group were sentenced to a combined total of 54 years on December 11, 2015.

The cocaine that was seized by officers.

The Stranges and Pagett were also supplying Anthony Moran, a then-33-year-old from Glasgow.

Moran is serving an eight-year prison sentence after British Transport Police officers acting on NCA intelligence stopped him on a train to Scotland shortly after a meeting with Pagett.

He had with him 1kg of cocaine worth £35,000 wholesale and up to £120,000 when cut and sold. One of Nicholas Strange's guilty pleas related to the supply of cocaine to Moran.

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