Four jailed for £3m cocaine conspiracy

A SALTFORD man has been jailed for his part in a criminal conspiracy to supply at least £3 million worth of cocaine.

Corneliu Preda, aged 37, was among four men sentenced for acting as drugs and money couriers to enable cocaine from London and the East Midlands to be supplied to the South West. They were jailed for a total of 37 years.

Eight other members of the organised crime group had already been sentenced to a total of 87 years for their roles in the conspiracy following an investigation by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU).

This makes the total custodial sentences handed down to the group 124 years. A further three members received suspended sentences.

Preda, as well as Pavel Purkin, 34, from Bognor Regis, Mehmet Sanci, 37, from Swindon, and Garfield Prehay, 36, from Wembley, were all convicted of enabling the conspiracy to operate. They would take a financial cut depending on the quantities they transported.

Over five deliveries, Purkin passed 55kg of cocaine worth nearly £2 million to Bath-based Romaine Hyman, who was jailed for 26 years in February 2022. Purkin has been sentenced to 15 years.

Sanci transported at least 5kg cocaine and collected £418,000 in drugs money from Hyman to take to London over two trips. He also supplied cocaine himself in Swindon. He was sentenced to nine years.

Footage released by SWROCU showed Sanci meeting Hyman in Bath in April 2020 to collect three bags containing £348,540, which was the balance owed for 10 kilos of cocaine delivered by Purkin earlier the same month.

Preda was a regular driver for Hyman, on one occasion driving him to collect £540,000 cash from a stash house in Bath before meeting Purkin and collecting seven kilos of cocaine. Four kilos were for Hyman, three for Sanci. Preda was sentenced to 10 years.

London-based Prehay transported 7kg blocks of cocaine from London to Bath on May 29, the day Hyman was arrested after stashing the drugs in a flat. Purkin was detained while waiting in his car outside, and Prehay less than an hour later on the M4 near Swindon as he headed back to London. Prehay was sentenced to three-and-a-half years.

DCI Adam Smith from the SWROCU said: “These four men were key to enabling the drugs conspiracy to operate, meaning huge amounts of class-A drugs supplied on our streets and massive profits for them and the rest of the criminal group.”

The investigation was part of Operation Venetic, the UK law enforcement response to the takedown of encrypted communications platform EncroChat, which was used exclusively by criminals.

Pictured, from left, Mehmet Sanci, Garfield Prehay, Corneliu Preda and Pavel Purkin