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Extradited drug dealer jailed after fleeing to Spain

A man who fled the country while under investigation for supplying cocaine and counterfeit medication has been jailed.

Luke Kelly, 35, of no fixed abode, was jailed for 9 years 3 months yesterday (28/5) after admitting to supplying cocaine and counterfeit Diazepam, following an investigation by the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU).

Kelly was initially investigated after another man, Kerry Barton, was arrested and subsequently jailed, following the seizure of a kilogram of cocaine with a street value of up to £120,000 in Guildford, Surrey, in November 2017.

Phones recovered from Barton on his arrest established that he was working for Kelly and investigations into their communications and movements established they were supplying the bulk cocaine to other drug dealers.

Extensive messages between the pair demonstrated the footprint of their operation, which spanned Surrey and Hampshire.

In July 2018, when arresting Kelly at the address he shared with his partner Lyanne Kitcher in Windlesham, Surrey, SEROCU officers discovered over 8,200 blister packs, branded as Diazepam, hidden under a tarpaulin in the garden.

The packs, which contained the class C drug Etizolam, comprised 115,850 tablets with a street value of over £82,000, which tests revealed to be counterfeit medication.

While on bail for the offences, Kelly fled the country using a fraudulent passport. However, after being located in Spain he was extradited to the United Kingdom in January 2020 and was re-arrested and subsequently charged.

Kelly, who also pleaded guilty to possessing and using a fraudulent passport, was sentenced to:

• One count of being concerned in the supply of cocaine for which he was sentenced to eight years and three months imprisonment;

• One count of possession of class C, Etizolam, with intent to supply for which he was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment to run consecutively;

• One count of possessing a fraudulent passport for which he was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment to run concurrently;

• Serious Crime Prevention Order granted for 5 years (A Serious Crime Prevention Order stipulates what electronic devices someone can have and they need to be registered with the police)

This was an extensive investigation and, although Kelly did his upmost to evade justice, the dedication of our work meant that even illegally fleeing to Spain wasn’t enough to stop him facing conviction. His actions have probably made his sentence all the more severe.

The public are well aware of the severe impact cocaine can have on our communities, and stopping supply lines of this scale and bringing offenders to justice are absolutely vital to combating its supply.

Counterfeit drugs also have huge implications on public health, particularly for those persons who are consuming this product in the belief that it is genuine. I’d urge the public to be mindful that criminals involved in supplying counterfeit medical products are not interested in your health, they only want your money. To those out there who continue to deal drugs, I hope this investigation is a stark reminder of the lengths we will go to ensure you are apprehended and put before the courts.

Detective Constable David Bone, from SEROCU’s Investigations Team