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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
John Dunne

Drug smuggler jailed after international police operation uncovered 'burner' phone evidence

A drug gang kingpin has been jailed for his role in an international crime group smuggling substances into the UK destined for the streets of London.

Lee Silvester was snared in a lengthy Met police operation working with forces overseas.

The senior drug gang member, 41, was caught with £50,000 in cash and a burner phone - used by criminals to because they are difficult to trace - which he had been using to orchestrate deals.

Silvester, from Bromley, was sentenced to nine years at Kingston Crown Court on Wednesday.

He was found guilty of four counts of conspiracy to supply and four counts of possession with intent to supply class A and B drugs including ketamine ecstasy and cannabis.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Brendan Kennedy said: “Silvester’s sentence concludes a matter that has been running for several years targeting organised criminality in the drug trade.

"The evidence demonstrated that his offending was linked to the importation of class A drugs into the UK involving criminals based overseas. Our investigation, assisted by partners in international law enforcement agencies, has caused them significant logistical and financial disruption as a result.

“We want to make London a hostile place for anyone considering this kind of activity, and there is no better deterrent for anyone involved in this kind of activity than spending years in prison.”

The court had heard Silvester was brought to justice after an associate was caught unloading £600k of drugs at a London storage unit.

He was charged and remanded, and was later convicted and jailed for over five years for possession with intent to supply offences.

Some of the drugs seized in a raid on a London storage facility which gave police vital evidence (Met)

Meanwhile officers had seized and examined that man’s phone and identified Silvester as being his boss in a drug gang.

Silvester was arrested in September 2022 and when stopped found to be in possession of class A drugs valued at over £50k.

A search of his property uncovered a wealth of evidence, including further drugs and associated paraphernalia including heat sealing devices, packaging equipment and a ‘burner’ phone which showed he he’d been in regular contact with the other man.

He was found guilty by unanimous verdict by a jury who deliberated for fewer than three hours.

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