Ascot man jailed for 12 years for his part in drug gang empire

Ascot man jailed for 12 years for his part in drug gang empire

Richard Wilmot (bottom row in middle) worked for drugs gang ringleader Patrick Ince (top left)

An Ascot man has been jailed for 12 years for his part in an organised crime group which supplied cocaine worth £21million to dealers across the UK. 

Richard Wilmot, 42, worked with ringleader Patrick Ince, 57, from Dartford in Kent, who was using encrypted messaging platform EncroChat to oversee his enterprise.

Officers from the Organised Crime Partnership – which is a joint National Crime Agency (NCA) and Metropolitan Police unit - uncovered Ince's empire in a piece of work labelled Operation Venetic. 

The drugs group sourced and distributed more than 150 kilos of cocaine and handled about £4.5million in associated cash.

They also supplied smaller quantities of ketamine throughout South east England.

Five members of the crime gang have already been jailed for a total of 68 years, which can now be revealed after reporting restrictions were lifted.

All but one were found to have used EncroChat devices to aid their criminality.

Ince and fellow group member Mark Eldridge, 53, from West Wickham in Kent, employed couriers Anthony Smith, 77, from Greenhithe in Kent and Michael Kelleher of Plumstead (now deceased).

They also supplied drugs to Berkshire-based dealers Richard Wilmot, 42, of Ascot and William James, 35, from Crowthorne.

Nathan Matheson, 35, from Bracknell, was also identified as a trusted courier and store person for the latter. 

Smith was ordered by Ince and Eldridge via EncroChat to deliver £2million worth of cocaine and £127,000 in cash to other criminals across London, Essex, Birmingham, Cornwall and Glasgow.

He was known on Ince’s contacts list as ‘Stan Hill’, which is believed to refer to the two having met at HMP Standford Hill in 2013, while incarcerated for drug supply offences.

Between them, Ascot-based Wilmot and James supplied £3.5million worth of cocaine in London and Berkshire, as well as 15 kilos of ketamine, worth a potential £600,000 to dealers.

The pair also laundered more than £1million in cash linked to the supply of those drugs.

All of the men were arrested at their home addresses on April 21 last year with the exception of Ince, who went on the run, and Smith, who was in prison on remand for other offences.

Ince was arrested on October 28, after being located in the Plumsted area.

All were later charged with conspiracy to supply controlled drugs and acquire criminal property.

Wilmot and James pleaded guilty at Kingston Crown Court on May 24; Eldridge on September 17 and Ince on February 28 this year.

Matheson and Smith were convicted on December 10 following a three-week trial at the same court.

On January 25, Eldridge, Wilmot, James, Smith and Matheson were sentenced to a total of 68 years in prison, while Ince was jailed for 20 years today (Thursday).

Ascot-based Wilmot was jailed for 12 years. 

Andrew Tickner, from the Organised Crime Partnership, said: “Patrick Ince, along with his right-hand man Mark Eldridge, arranged the movement of cocaine worth tens of millions of pounds.

“The tentacles of their gang stretched across the UK, enabling drugs to seep into communities where they would drive high levels of violence and intimidation.

“Our investigation tore this organised crime group apart and in doing so removed a significant wholesale supplier for dealers across the country.”

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