The three men were sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court earlier this month for their involvement in supplying cocaine.
Overall 41kg of cocaine was found in the rear of a white van used by the gang and, in total, 49kg of cocaine was seized with an estimated street value of almost £6m.
Ex-Schroders employee Joe Sawyer, 26, of Fieldhouse Close, Redbridge was sentenced to eight years in prison for his role
Co-defendant Lazarus John Loizides, 27, of St. Anthony’s Drive, Chelmsford, Essex, was sentenced to 11 years’ in prison and co-defendant Robert Beckley, 31, of Church Road, West Malling, Kent, was given four years and four months’ in prison.
The three were caught with a substantial cocaine stash hidden in a white van.
The court was told that in October Mr Loizides was seen parking a white van outside the home of Mr Sawyer before getting into Mr Sawyer’s vehicle with a blue holdall which he put on the back seats before they drove off.
Later that day Mr Sawyer returned and got into the rear of the white van with a holdall, which he then left in the van before returning to his vehicle and driving home. About an hour and a half later, Mr Beckley arrived in a black van and parked in Fieldhouse Close. Mr Sawyer saw him pull up, moved the white van up the road and parked three cars in front of Mr Beckley’s.
Mr Sawyer was seen to pace up and down the road on the phone to Mr Loizides who arrived, now driving a black car. With Mr Loizides present, Mr Sawyer got out with the blue holdall and went to the front passenger seat of Mr Beckley’s van, handing over the blue bag. Mr Beckley then left.
Mr Beckley, in his own vehicle, was followed by officers onto the M25 where he was stopped by marked cars. The blue holdall was still in the passenger foot well. Inside officers found 5kgs of cocaine.
Back at Fieldhouse Close, Mr Loizides was seen by officers taking two large Sports Direct bags out of his black car. He put both bags into the rear of the white van he initially arrived in and left.
Officers followed him and arrested him at 7pm in Cloudesley Street, London N1. He was found in possession of a large quantity of cash and a ‘burner’ phone. Under one of the rear seats was a sophisticated hiding place, the police said.
Officers searched Mr Loizides’ address, where they found 3kg of cocaine, £55,000 in cash, a number of expensive watches and a number of receipts for high value purchases at Harrods.
Mr Sawyer was arrested around 45 minutes after Mr Loizides’ arrest. Officers found the keys to the white van that Mr Loizides had initially arrived in and opened it. Inside they found the two Sports Direct bags. Inside one of the bags were 24 x 1kg bricks of cocaine. Underneath the floor of the white van was a concealed ‘hide’ which contained a further 17 x 1kg bricks of cocaine.
All three men were charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs (cocaine). Mr Loizides was further charged with possession of criminal property in relation to the cash seized. All three pleaded guilty at Snaresbrook Crown Court in November.
Detective Chief Inspector Driss Hayoukane, from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said: “The lengths these men went to try and conceal their criminal activities by having secret hides in their cars is not something an everyday person would even think to consider – but then again most everyday persons wouldn’t even consider transporting almost 50kg of cocaine in their vehicles.
“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, we are committed to putting handcuffs on those involved in drugs supply offences and making sure that they spend a significant amount of time in prison.”
It is believed Mr Sawyer had a junior back office role at Schroders and had been with the company for 14 months. A Schroders spokesperson said: “He is a former employee and was dismissed for gross misconduct.” According to the London Evening Standard Mr Sawyer had worked in financial services for eight years in total.