Two men have pleaded guilty to drug offences following one of the largest land seizures of cocaine in the UK worth more than £20 million

A team of the Met’s Specialist Crime officers, supported by West Midlands Police, carried out a stop of a vehicle on the A45 on 11 December 2019. A further search was carried out at an address in Olds Trading Estate Park in Hockley, Birmingham on the same day.

Officers discovered 168kg of Class A drugs (cocaine) within the vehicle. A further 4kg of Class A drugs (cocaine and MDMA) and 1kg of cutting agent were discovered inside the address.

The following were arrested and charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs:

– Baldev Singh Sahota, 53 of Joining Banks, Oldbury, West Midlands.
– Shakti Gupta, 34 of Hagley Road West, Quinton, Birmingham.

Both men appeared at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday, 9 January where they pleaded guilty to the offence. They will be sentenced at the same court on Friday, 7 February.

The defendants were arrested as the result of an operation targeting a sophisticated drug supply chain. The operation was led by detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command.

Intelligence gathered throughout the course of the operation led detectives to believe significant quantities of drugs were destined for supply on the streets of London.

On the back of this intelligence, on 11 December 2019 officers stopped a van on the A45. On inspection of the van, officers discovered a large quantity of Class A drugs had been mixed among pallets of frozen food. Sahota was arrested at the scene.

Officers then proceeded to carry out a search of a venue where further substances were found. Gupta was arrested at this address.

Detective Superintendent Neil Ballard, from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said: “This operation has resulted in one of the largest land seizures of cocaine within the UK. It is a significant find which demonstrates the scale of this organised drug supply operation which the Met has successfully dismantled.

“The audacity of those involved and the lack of consideration for the impact of their criminality is clear. We have continually stated there is an inextricable link between the supply of drugs and the violence we have seen unfolding on the streets of London.

“The distribution of this cocaine would have no doubt had a devastating impact on our communities. We will continue to deal robustly with those who seek to supply drugs, exploit young people and target the most vulnerable within our city for the sole purpose of financial gain – often instigating violent acts and placing young people at risk of harm and criminalisation in the process.

“This should send a clear message to anyone involved in this type of organised criminality that that we will not only go after those directly supplying drugs to our communities, but we will use all the powers available to us to dismantle the wider networks and cut off the source of supply.

“We work closely with other units across the Met and key partners including the NCA, Regional Organised Crime Units and County Forces to tackle serious and organised criminality. We will continue to target the supply of drugs and reduce the harm they are causing to the communities of London and beyond.

“I’m grateful to our colleagues from West Midlands Police who supported the Met in this operation and prosecution.”

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