Gang traded in human misery
THE six members of the Locks Network who were jailed for peddling hard drugs around Swindon have been ordered to hand over a fraction of what they made.
And half of the gang will have to hand over no more than the £10 or £20 found on them when they were arrested.
A judge ruled the six men benefitted from crime to a total of £17,303.70 but could only order the confiscation of £5,671.45.
Most of that was the £4,421.45 taken in cash and goods from the 26-year-old ringleader Ares Agnelli, who earlier this year was jailed for four years and eight months.
Co-defendant Gary Turner, 34, got three years, while Shane Harper, 23, Rahim Moussa, 24, Barkhad Jama, 29, and Valentino Aloba, 24, each got two years eight months.
At a confiscation hearing before Swindon Crown Court on Monday, Judge Douglas Field ruled that Agnelli only had £2,231.45p of available assets in the form of cash and goods.
He gave him two months to come up with the money or face a further 45 days added to his jail term, and still have to pay up under the draconian Proceeds of Crime Act.
Each of the other five were ruled to have benefitted to the tune of £2,576.45p with only Moussa, with a benefit figure of £870, having to find the cash to pay.
All of the others just had to forfeit what was on them when they were arrested, with Aloba having to sign over £530, Harper £20 and the others just £10.
Moussa was given 28 days to pay, with 28 days in default, while the others were given 14 days to pay with seven days in default except for Aloba, who would have to serve 28 days.
The Locks Network, run by American born Ares Agnelli, was smashed following an undercover police operation late last year.
As well using covert officers pretending to be addicts to make test purchases, the police also used their stop and search powers to keep tabs on the suspects.
From September to December last year the undercover cops bought drugs from all of the defendants after contacting them on various mobile phone numbers.
When they met up to make the purchases there were often numerous other users waiting to get their fix, and on one occasion they appeared to have sold out.
Police also raided addresses in Cricklade Road and Manchester Road where they recovered cash and drugs with forensic links to some of the men.
Agnelli, of Graham Street, Turner, of Frobisher Drive, Aloba, of Westcott Place, Harper, of no fixed abode, Moussa, of Gooch Street, Jama, of West Drayton, Middlesex, and Harper, of no fixed abode, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
Moussa and Jama, who had no previous convictions, both said they were paid by Agnelli to deal drugs while the others were users funding their habits.
Agnelli was jailed for four years in London in April 2009 for supplying drugs and was recommended for deportation, which never took place as he is a joint Italian citizen.
Passing sentence, Recorder Ian Lawrie QC, said: “Whatever the prompt that might have persuaded you that this was a way to earn money to pay debts or feed you drug habit or to replace good, old-fashioned hard work, you were out trading in human misery.
“You were making money on the backs of others. While none of you seem to have made vast amounts of money, you were making money.
“Mr Agnelli, you did appear to be the main man. You have influence over others. Two of your co-defendants have made it clear that you effectively enlisted them to get involved in being drug runners so I have to put you in a different part of the scale.
“No doubt all of you to varying degrees were motivated by financial motivations.”