People in 'sleepy' village say cocaine ring run by landlord 'not a shock'
- Credit: Daniel Hickey
Residents of a "sleepy village" in the Broads have been reacting to the news that a former pub landlord has been jailed for leading a cocaine supply ring.
Loizos Couma, 28, who used to run the Victoria Inn in Martham, has been sentenced to 32 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply the Class A drug.
All of the villagers who commented on the news did not wish to be named.
One man said: "As a villager, I do feel it goes on not just in towns, but also in the sleepy villages. Cannabis farms have been found in other villages.
"They are spreading out here because it's quieter and maybe because police are not as present out this way."
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"It's news to me but it doesn't shock me," he added.
A woman who lives near the pub said: "I can only say it goes on all over the place these days. Although I'm quite near the pub, they never caused me any problems.
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"We'd all like an ideal world, but it doesn't work out like that," she added.
Another woman, who also lives close to the premises, said: "I thought drug-dealing was going on there."
A local business owner was surprised it had happened in Martham but added: "Nowadays you do hear about it all over the place".
In all, eight men have been jailed in relation to the supply of cocaine in and around Great Yarmouth, with the offenders all having addresses in the villages around the town.
Investigations into the supply group began on December 17, 2019, when a car belonging to Couma was stopped by police.
The driver, Lewis Hannant, 33, of Thrigby Road in Filby, was arrested after being found in possession of a small quantity of cocaine.
Officers visited The Victoria Inn on December 20, 2019, of which Couma was the landlord, and discovered a number of cannabis edibles which led to the arrest of Couma and Robert Hargreaves, 32, of Spruce Avenue in Ormesby, on suspicion of possession of drugs with intent to supply.
The seizure of a mobile phone at the scene uncovered the sizeable organised drug supply ring led by Couma.
A lengthy investigation resulted in the arrests and prosecution of Couma and the seven others who supplied drugs on his behalf.
Officers found evidence and correspondence between the men, relating to conspiracy to supply, and dealing of both class A and B drugs.
All eight defendants were convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine between April 2019 and August 2020. Six of them appeared at Norwich Crown Court on July 22 for sentencing after facing charges of conspiracy to supply cocaine.
A further two appeared at the court on September 1 after facing similar charges.
Loizos Couma, of Repps Road, Martham, was sentenced to 32 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Robert Hargreaves, of Spruce Avenue, Ormesby, was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to being concerned in the supply of cannabis and conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Sam Gordon, of Paston Drive, Caister-on-Sea, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, after pleading guilty to being concerned in the supply of cannabis, conspiracy to supply cocaine, and being concerned in the supply of ecstasy.
Scott Watson of Repps Road, Martham, Aaron Kern of the Avenue, Hemsby, and Russell Roberts of Scratby Cresent, Scratby were all sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Lewis Hannant, of Thrigby Road, Filby, was sentenced to 28 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Kurtis Snow, of Wright Close, Caister-on-Sea, was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment, after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to supply cocaine.
The sentences have followed an extensive 12-month investigation by Norfolk Police into a suspected cocaine supply group operating in Great Yarmouth.
PC Nick Woolf-Roberts, Moonshot East Investigator, said: "This case offers the perfect example of how the combined policing efforts of Operation Moonshot, Great Yarmouth Neighbourhood Policing Teams, Beat Managers and Licensing teams can and will lead to entire drug networks being disrupted and taken down.
"The results of these custodial sentences show that it’s simply not worth dealing drugs in this county."