FOUR Bournemouth-based drug traffickers have been jailed for a total of 42 years for their part in a £125 million cocaine-supplying ring spanning three counties.

Craig Blake, 38, from Huntly Road, Gareth Davies, 36, from St Luke’s Road and Matthew Howgate, 34, from Branksome Wood Road pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply class A drugs.

Yesterday Blake was jailed for 16 years and eight months, Davies was locked up for 12 years and Howgate was imprisoned for five years.

Their co-defendants Michael Green, 30, from East Avenue and Lee Cutler, 33, from Surrey Road, had denied conspiring to supply cocaine but were both convicted at Cardiff Crown Court.

Green was jailed for nine years and Cutler will be sentenced on Friday.

Jurors at Cardiff Crown Court heard how they had been part of a ten-man crime gang operating in Bournemouth, Kent and South Wales between June 1, 2007 and July 2009.

During a two-and-a-half year hi-tech undercover operation, which led to the Bournemouth arrests on June 30 last year, police officers bugged cars and secretly recorded gang members.

Officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency spent months listening to conversations, photographing suspects and filming their meetings.

Prosecutor Robert Davies said: “This is about drug trafficking groups in the UK, working at a high level.

“The quantities involved were substantial. Tens of thousands of pounds were intercepted and cocaine was taken out of circulation.

“The main players were making a lot of money.”

Half a tonne of cocaine, with a wholesale worth of around £25 million, was involved. But once cut and sold on the streets the value of the class A drug quadrupled to around £125 million.

Investigators discovered that Blake and Darren Quick, who led the Kent drug conspiracy group, had previously collaborated in the export of high-purity cocaine to Australia.

Working with the Australian Federal Police, evidence was obtained of both drug trafficking and associated money laundering through a Panamanian-registered company and bank accounts in America and Cyprus.

Searches uncovered three commercial presses, consistent with drug trafficking, 14kg of cocaine and cutting agent, 23kg of amphetamine, 3,000 cannabis plants and four tasers.

• Four men from South Wales and one man from Kent were also convicted of conspiracy to supply class A drugs.