Crime boss Patrick Ince – who oversaw £ 21million drug empire pushing cocaine into Birmingham – has been jailed

The boss of a crime group who oversaw a £ 21million cocaine empire has been jailed for 20 years. Patrick Ince, 57, and his gang distributed a massive 150 kilos of the Class A drug between several cities – including Birmingham.

The crooks handled around £ 4.5million in dirty cash, while also supplying ketamine throughout south east England. Ince and right-hand man Mark Eldridge, 53, employed entrusted dealers Anthony Smith, 77, William James, 35, Richard Wilmot, 42 and Michael Kelleher, who is now dead, to carry out their organized crime.

Smith used encrypted messaging service EncroChat to speak with Ince and discuss the delivery of £ 2million-worth of cocaine into B irmingham, London, Essex, Cornwall and Glasgow. He was saved on Ince’s phonebook as ‘Stan Hill’ – a possible reference to the two having met at HMP Standford Hill in 2013.

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James and Wilmot supplied £ 3.5million worth of cocaine throughout London and Berkshire, as well as around two-and-a-half stone (15 kilos) of ketamine – worth a potential £ 600,000 to dealers. The pair also laundered over £ 1million in cash linked to the dealing of the huge quantities of narcotics.

Most of the men were arrested at their homes last April. Ince, however, went on the run before being tracked down in Plumstead, south-east London. And Smith was already in prison on remand for other crimes.

Anthony Smith.

Five members were jailed for a total of 68 years, which can now be revealed after reporting restrictions were lifted by a judge following the sentencing of Ince. At Kingston Crown Court today, Thursday, April 7, Ince, of Dartford, Kent, was jailed for two decades.

Eldridge, of West Wickham, south east London, was also jailed for 20 years in January, along with four other members of the gang. James, of Crowthorne, Berkshire, Wilmot, from Ascot, Berkshire, Matheson, of Bracknell, Berkshire, and Smith of Greenhithe, Kent, were all jailed for 12 years each.

Some of the cash belonging to the group.

Andrew Tickner, from the National Crime Agency’s Organized Crime Partnership, said: “Patrick Ince, along with Mark Eldridge, arranged the movement of cocaine worth tens of millions of pounds. The tentacles of their gang stretched across the UK, enabling drugs to seep into communities where they would drive high levels of violence and intimidation.

“Our investigation tore this organized crime group apart and in doing so removed a significant wholesale supplier for dealers across the country.”

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