The head of a £60 million cocaine supply network has been sentenced to 17 years and four months in jail after a two-year investigation by the Metropolitan Police’s Organised Crime Command.
Klodjan Copja, aged 30, an Albanian national of no fixed abode, was sentenced at Kingston Crown Court after he pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, one count of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs and one count of conspiracy to import a Class A drug.
The court heard Copja was caught as the result of a proactive investigation by the Met’s Central Task Force into a UK cocaine supply network from April 2013 to July 2015.
The investigation involved three arrest phases in order to build evidence against Copja, the head of the network.
During the first period, from April 2013 to July 2013, Met officers worked with colleagues from Kent Police, West Midlands Police, Bedfordshire Police and Thames Valley Police to carry out a surveillance operation on Copja’s drug supply network.
As a result, 12 people were arrested for their involvement as customers or suppliers of Class A drugs, worth an estimated £2.5 million. They received a combined total of 166 years in prison.On 3 July 2013, Met officers detained Copja’s couriers in possession of 11kg of cocaine, 6.5kg heroin and 3kg cannabis in the Earls Court area of London. During their arrests, Copja was seen to drive past the safe house before fleeing the UK later the same day.
Copja returned to the UK in March 2014 and the investigation into his network continued.
Between March 2014 and July 2014, police identified that Copja had employed a new network of couriers.
One of the couriers was identified as making weekly trips to a lay-by in Maidstone, Kent where he would meet a lorry that had imported cocaine from the continent into the UK.
Once the drugs were in the UK, the courier would supply them to numerous organised crime groups in London, Birmingham, Leicester and Nottingham.
Copja again fled the United Kingdom and his network closed down.
Investigations revealed the network had imported approximately 540kg of cocaine, worth an estimated £23 million, into the UK prior to their detention.
Copja returned to the UK in October 2014 and again rebuilt his cocaine distribution network. During this period, Met officers again worked with other forces throughout the UK, and in particular West Midlands Police, to identify the customers of Copja’s network.
This led to the identification of a particular network in Birmingham that was supplied by Copja and run by another Albanian national.
Evidence gathered by West Midlands Police, showed the couriers of the Birmingham cocaine supply network would deliver bags of money to an address in central London and then send further couriers to a location in Wembley to collect their drugs.
The Met’s investigation came to a conclusion in July 2015 when two men were detained in Saunderton Road in Wembley in possession of 28kg cocaine.
They had supplied 12kg of cocaine to two men who had travelled from Wolverhampton to collect their drugs from Copja’s network.
Phone evidence implicated Copja as orchestrating this network from overseas. Upon hearing his accomplices had been detained, he remained on the run until March 2017, when he was detained in Greece and then extradited back to the UK.
Copja pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to supply cocaine, one count of conspiracy to supply cannabis and one count of conspiracy to import cocaine on Saturday, 8 July.
Detective Constable Gavin Collins, of the Met’s Organised Crime Command, said: “Copja was the head of a large cocaine supply network responsible for importing £60 million worth of drugs into the UK.
“The Met, in partnership with a number of police forces across the UK, carried out a detailed investigation into the drug supply network that has led to the convictions of 42 people and total jail sentences of more than 360 years.
“The supply of illegal drugs brings nothing but crime and misery to the streets of London and we will investigate and prosecute anyone involved in organised crime groups such as this.”