Channel 4’s 24 Hours in Police Custody cops bring £58m drug ring to justice

Detectives featuring on an upcoming Channel 4 24 Hours in Police Custody episode have told how they brought a £58million drug ring to justice this year.

The Eastern Regions Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) investigated Hertfordshire's "biggest ever" drugs bust last year.

The documentary gives a rare fly on the wall insight into covert policing and tells how last August undercover officers intercepted 70kg of cocaine and 45kg of heroin.

Detectives were first alerted to the drug ring on August 21 after Border Patrol officers found drugs hidden in spider catchers at a port in France the day before.

They tracked the delivery to a business unit at Little Samuels Farm in Hunsdon, Essex rented by head of the drug gang Robert Brooks.

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Cops allowed the delivery to go ahead 24 hours later and set up a covert operation to seize the drugs on arrival.

They arrested Brook's assistants Richard Campbell and Tomasz Wozniak who were there to accept it.

Brooks, who played a leading role in the 39 deliveries of drugs from Holland, was sentenced to 21 years in prison last year after pleading guilty to two charges.

Another man, Stephen Capp, 56, of Old Lodges, Hull, worked as a courier for the gang.

He was arrested on the M25 in December 2019 and five kilograms of cocaine was seized in his car.

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Capp was jailed for nine years and six months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply a drug of Class A and possession of Class A drug, Hertfordshire Live reports.

Capp's Audi A5 car was captured on dashcam footage seized from Brooks reversing into a unit at the rented unit at the farm where drugs had recently been delivered.

Detectives told Daily Star Online how they were astounded that Brooks left his dashcam on and say it was a pivotal moment in bringing the drugs ring to justice.

A senior investigating officer from ERSOU, who wants to be known only as Dave to protect his identity, said: "That dashcam footage gave us several things, it gave us Capp turning up there after a delivery and collecting commodity and it also put Brooks in that unit when that happened. So his initial account in the interview where he said he wasn't involved, it is a lot harder for him to have that as a defence in court because we had evidence of him within that unit when Capp was there getting the resupply of those drugs. So it was a real critical point for us.

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"He was a part-time driving instructor I believe he has that dash cam in there as part of his driving business or whatever he was doing and perhaps he didn't appreciate that dashcam was recording."

Dave also described the pressure on officers to get evidence.

He said: "There is pressure to make these decisions quickly, affectively, pressure to get results. There is pressure once you've charged people, there is pressure from the CPS for the service of evidence.

"We work long hours, it can be challenging, but on the flip side it can be really rewarding."

And he described how covert operations are often drawn out and involve lots of surveillance.

"Sometimes it is easier to enforce, but the trick is allowing things to play out and see what happens," he added.

Detective Chief Superintendent at ERSOU Simon Parkes also told how officers were quickly mobilised after being alerted to the drug delivery in France.

He said: "This is the beauty of working with ERSOU, we have a lot of resources at our disposal and we can get them quite quickly so we can get a big team together with all the relevant specialism that is required to get that ready really quickly and that's how we were able to turn it round in the 24-hour period for the 22nd of August."

Campbell, 49, the "warehouse manager", was sentenced to 13-and-a-half years in prison, after he admitted conspiracy to evade the prohibition of Class A drugs and Wozniak admitted conspiracy to supply a controlled drug of Class A status and was sentenced to six years and three months imprisonment.

The documentary airs on Sunday and Monday evening on Channel 4

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