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Organised Crime Group get a total of 58 years in prison for supply of Class A drugs

Credit: South Wales Police

Seven members of an Organised Crime Group (OCG) were sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court on September 22nd following an operation led by Tarian, the Regional Organised Crime Unit for southern Wales.

Operation Cruz was a complex investigation which tackled the group’s wholesale supply of cocaine across the southern Wales region. The OCG was headed up by Joshua Matthews, from Pontyclun who bought his drugs from several upstream suppliers.

Credit: South Wales Police

On 21st July 2023, Vincent Aquilina, a known associate of Matthews, was seen leaving an address in the Caerau area of Cardiff, carrying a bag. Aquilina then met Matthews and handed him the bag which was placed in a Range Rover used by Matthews.

Joshua Matthews was arrested a short time later on the A4119 in Miskin, having attempted to make off from the Police, causing damage to over 20 other vehicles on the road in the process. His actions put many members of the public at risk and caused injuries and distress to some.

Officers recovered 4 kilogrammes of cocaine, with a street value of £400,000, from the bag Aquilina had given to Matthews.

Officers then searched the address in Caerau and found a further 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, 3 kilos of cannabis bush, and additional items used in the supply of drugs. A phone linked to Matthews was examined and found to show evidence of significant drug dealing within text conversations.

As a result of Operation Cruz, seven individuals were arrested and subsequently sentenced for their involvement.

  • Joshua MATTHEWS, aged 27, from Pontyclun, Rhondda Cynon Taff: nine-years for Conspiracy to Supply Class A – cocaine, and 12-months for Dangerous Driving.
  • Vincent AQUILINA, aged 25, from Cardiff: seven-years-three-months for Conspiracy to Supply Class A – cocaine.
  • Kaid MOHAMED, aged 39, from Cardiff: eleven-years-six-months for Conspiracy to Supply Class A – cocaine.
  • Jacob BATES, aged 29, from Shifnal, Shropshire: four-years-nine-months for Conspiracy to Supply Class A – cocaine.
  • Jamie HIGGINS, aged 22, from Telford: four-years-six-months for Conspiracy to Supply Class A – cocaine.
  • Alan WILLS, aged 57, from Cardiff: four-years-six-months for Conspiracy to Supply Class A – cocaine, and Possession with Intent to Supply – cannabis.
  • Jacob HOWELL-SANTOS, aged 31, from Cardiff: four-years-three-months for Conspiracy to Supply Class A – cocaine, and Permit Supply of Controlled Drugs on Premises – cocaine.

Detective Chief Inspector Lloyd Williams, of Tarian ROCU, said:“These men were intent on allowing vast quantities of Class A drugs to permeate the communities of southern Wales. Thanks to the relentless efforts of a dedicated team of investigators, they were apprehended and have subsequently been handed significant sentences.

“It is hoped that these sentences will serve as a deterrent to anyone else who is involved in, or thinking of becoming involved in, the dealing of drugs.”

A further investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act is ongoing.