A WALSALL man believed to be a prominent member of a Birmingham gang will spend six years behind bars for drug offences after cocaine with a street value of £20,000 was discovered hidden in a box of cat food.
Sylvanus Coker-Anderson was arrested after officers found the Class A drugs hidden in the footwell of a car which was stopped and searched in April last year.
Officers in the Erdington area of Birmingham noticed an MG TF convertible acting suspiciously on the road and stopped the female driver.
The vehicle was searched and it was determined upon examination that the box of cat food contained half a kilo of cocaine.
The driver, 34-year-old Michelle Stevens, told officers she was meeting someone with the street name of “Visa” and following police enquiries, “Visa” was identified as Coker-Anderson.
The 33-year-old, who is linked to the Johnson Crew gang, was later arrested and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Stevens was convicted following a trial during which she stated that she was not involved in drug dealing and that she funded her lifestyle through lap dancing in bars across the country.
The 34-year-old, of Upper Sheffield Road, Sheffield, was handed a suspended sentence for two years at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday (May 3).
Last month Robert Djima, from London, also pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and was sentenced to four years in custody on the basis that he supplied the drugs.
Detective Superintendent Dave Sanders, from Force CID, said: “As a result of this lengthy and complex inquiry, a number of individuals including one linked to the Johnson Crew have now been jailed.
“We’re committed to addressing this type of criminality in every way possible.
“The supply of drugs to fund these people’s lifestyles has a negative impact on the wider community and we are determined to pursue those involved. The detailed and extensive inquiries carried out as part of this investigation proved the offence – and also showed the extent of the influence of a prominent member of the Johnson Crew.
“We will do all that we can to limit their activity and see that these people are brought to justice.”
In 2012, West Midlands Police established a new taskforce to tackle gangs operating in the region.
The team of 30 detectives target those suspected of being involved in criminal activity and oversee an extensive schools education programme designed to de-glamourise gang culture, knife and gun crime.
They are supported by local officers, the drug investigation team, firearms unit and the National Ballistics Intelligence Service.