Bognor man amongst those arrested as police investigate drug ring in the South West

A Bognor Regis man was amongst those arrested when Wiltshire Police officers cracked down on a drug ring responsible for moving millions of pounds worth of cocaine from London and the East Midlands into the South West.
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Pavel Purkin, 34, from Bognor Regis, was one of four men arrested who acted as drug suppliers and couriers for the group, and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.

Over the course of five deliveries, Purkin passed 55kg of cocaine – worth about £2 million – through to Romaine Hyman, based in Bath, and who has already been sentenced to 26 years in prison for his part in the organisation.

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The other three men arrested were: Mehmet Sanci, 37, from Swindon; Corneliu Preda, 37 from Saltford, Bath; and Garfield Prehay, 36 from Wembley. All of them acted as couriers for the drug ring, and took a financial cut depending on the quantities of drugs they transported.

Pavel Purkin, 34, from Bognor Regis. Photo: Wiltshire PolicePavel Purkin, 34, from Bognor Regis. Photo: Wiltshire Police
Pavel Purkin, 34, from Bognor Regis. Photo: Wiltshire Police

Eight other members of the group have already been sentenced to a total of 87 years in prison for their role in the conspiracy, a Wiltshire Police spokesperson said, following a South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU) investigation.

Sanci transported at least 5kg cocaine and collected £418,000 in drugs money from Hyman to take to London over two trips. He also supplied cocaine himself in Swindon. He was sentenced to nine years.

Footage released by SWROCU shows Sanci meeting Hyman in Bath in April 2020 to collect three bags containing £348,540, which was the balance owed for 10 kilos of cocaine delivered by Purkin earlier the same month.

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Preda was a regular driver for Hyman, on one occasion driving him to collect £540,000 cash from a stash house in Bath before meeting Purkin and collecting 7 kilos of cocaine. Four kilos were for Hyman, three for Sanci. Preda was sentenced to ten years.

London-based Prehay transported seven kilo blocks of cocaine from London to Bath on 29 May, the day Hyman was arrested after stashing the drugs in a flat. Purkin was detained while waiting in his car outside, and Prehay less than an hour later on the M4 near Swindon as he headed back to London. Prehay was sentenced to three-and-a-half years.

DCI Adam Smith from the SWROCU said, “These four men were key to enabling the drugs conspiracy to operate, meaning huge amounts of class A drugs supplied on our streets and massive profits for them and the rest of the criminal group.

“This investigation has seen significant sentences totalling more than 120 years handed down, with many key players pleading guilty due to the strength of evidence we gathered against them.

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“These were highly organised criminals causing massive harm in our communities, but the tireless work of our investigation team, working closely with colleagues in the CPS, secured their convictions and has ensured they’re brought to justice.”

The arrests, as well as the wider investigation, all took place as part of Operation Venetic, the UK law enforcement response to the takedown of encrypted communications platform EncroChat, which was used exclusively by criminals.