Two drug dealers involved in the wholesale supply of cocaine and cannabis with an estimated street value of £1.5million have been jailed for a total of almost 15 years.

Thomas Ambler (left image) and Lewis Spratt operated a criminal network across Kent, using encrypted communication devices to facilitate the distribution of drugs believed to weigh in excess of 60 kilograms.

An investigation by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate revealed that between January and September 2020, the men used the devices to access a secret phone network and contact other criminals.

When making a purchase they would typically request a photograph of the drug in a large quantity, normally a kilogram. This would then be forwarded (at an increased price) to other contacts using the network.

Their operation came to an end on 15 September, when Ambler was arrested after police stopped his van on the M20.

He initially claimed he was on his way back from pricing a scaffolding job in Essex, but when the van was searched officers discovered almost eight kilograms of cannabis.

The investigation would also link Spratt as a suspect and he was arrested on 17 November.

Guilty pleas

Both men were charged and appeared before Maidstone Crown Court.

Ambler, 28, from Barming pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs (cocaine) and conspiracy to supply Class B drugs (cannabis and amphetamine). On Wednesday 24 May 2023, he was jailed for 11 years and three months. 

Spratt’s defence argued he had only been involved in dealing cannabis and the court accepted his plea of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs. Aged 29 and from Ashford, Spratt was sentenced to three years and seven months.


Doomed to failure

Detective Sergeant Dean Sycamore said: ‘By using encrypted phone devices both men had wrongly assumed they could operate with impunity, believing the network to communicate with their suppliers and customers was secure.

‘However, we have been able to access a vast amount of evidence contained within messages they were sending and receiving. Our investigation has been able to clearly demonstrate that Ambler was dealing substantial amounts of drugs over a sustained period, selling cocaine by the kilogram at up to £40,000 a time.

‘It was also clear that Spratt had played a significant role in this operation, leaving both men with little choice but to plead guilty at court. This was a sophisticated and complex criminal network, but one which was ultimately doomed to failure due to the offenders’ mistaken belief they could escape detection.’

By Ed

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