A minicab driver from Bromley has been jailed along with two partners for his role in a “drug empire” supplying multiple kilos of cocaine across London, and the UK, on a weekly basis.
The three men were sentenced at Kingston Crown Court on Thursday, November 12, for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, namely cocaine, delivered by the taxi driver across London.
The trio have been jailed for a combined total of over 25 years after a an intelligence-led investigation by the Met Police led them to more than £1.1 million worth of Class A drugs.
Karl Balogun, 31 , of Wood Lodge Gardens, Bromley, has been sentenced to six years and 10 months’ imprisonment.
Also sentenced, Antonio Chambers, 47, of Vicarage Gate, Kensington, was given 10 years and nine months’ imprisonment, and Darren Lamb, 45, of no fixed address, was sentenced to seven years and seven months.
Chambers, the ring leader, was identified by the Met Police’s Flying Squad as a person of interest in relation to an elaborate drugs conspiracy.
Police said Chambers recruited Balogun and Lamb to become his drug runners during the height of the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Balogun was a licensed minicab driver and would use his profession as cover to conduct drug ‘runs’ across London and south east England, while Lamb posed as a legitimate passenger in Balogun’s cab by sitting in the back during the drop offs.
Detective Constable Mike Bunn, the investigating officer from the Met’s Flying Squad, said: “This crime group were supplying multiple kilos of cocaine across London, and the UK, on a weekly basis.
“Antonio Chambers ran his drug empire from the comforts of Kensington and used members of his firm to do his bidding.”
On Monday, May 18, at around 8:40am, officers observed Balogun drive to the South Norwood area in his white Toyota Prius where he picked up Lamb.
At 9:31am, Balogun and Lamb stopped at Campden Grove, Kensington, where Chambers, who was on foot and carrying a rucksack, was waiting.
Chambers was then seen walking to the rear of the vehicle, where he handed over the rucksack to Lamb, shortly before taking his rucksack back and walking off as the vehicle drove away.
At 11:04am, the vehicle, still driven by Balogun, made a stop at Newmarket, Suffolk, and Lamb made a drug drop off shortly before getting back into the vehicle and making a further stop at Denham, Buckinghamshire, at around 12:50pm, where the two men collected drugs.
At 13:25pm, Balogun and Lamb drove back to Campden Grove in Kensington where Chambers met them again and was seen getting into the rear of the vehicle with a rucksack.
As Chambers entered the vehicle, plain-clothed officers intercepted the Prius and arrested the three men for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
When searching the vehicle, officers recovered two 1kg blocks of cocaine in the rucksack that Chambers was in possession of and seized a separate holdall bag containing eight 1kg blocks of cocaine, which was open and placed between Lamb’s feet.
A search of an address that Chambers was residing at in Vicarage Gate, Kensington, resulted in the seizure of two encrypted smartphones, electronic scales, £7,000 in cash, and a 1kg block of cocaine. This operation is separate from Operation Venetic.
A further search of Balogun’s address in Wood Lodge Gardens, Bromley, resulted in the seizure of the following items:
• Two large black tubs containing skunk/cannabis
• £5,000 hidden in a sock draw
• Three large wraps of cannabis
• Several wraps of cocaine
• A large quantity of snap bags and drugs paraphernalia
• Xanax tablets
• Benzocaine in a foil packet
• A burner mobile phone
The drugs seized as part of this operation have a street value of £1,100,000.
DC Bunn added: ““There is an undeniable link between drug dealing and violence, and I am pleased we have prevented these drugs from being sold on our streets and bringing chaos to London’s communities.
“This dangerous individual has been locked up for a considerable amount of time. I hope this sentencing sends a clear message to anyone who is considering carrying out similar acts that we will absolutely use all legal powers available to us to bring offenders to justice.”