A DRUG gang that shipped millions of pounds worth of cocaine into the city have been sentenced to nearly 25 years in jail.

Nuri Mucmataj, Bekim Halilaj, Fitim Halilaj and Tamas Hela, from Albania, conspired to supply more than £4m worth of class A drugs to people in Southampton.

A nine-month investigation into the gang was carried out by Hampshire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Team.

Officers observed the gang, who were all in the UK illegally, between September 2016 and April 2017.

The group were finally caught when officers raided an Astra van in Southampton which contained cocaine with a street value of £140,000 as well as £30,000 in cash on April 21.

In the van, which was adapted to have a series of hidden compartments to hide the drugs and money, were Hela and Fitim Halilaj.

The police then carried out further raids in Carrington House, in Westwood Road, Portswood. Here they found Bekim Halilaj and £10,000 worth of cocaine.

A final search on Ted Bates Road, Bargate found Mucmataj.

Southampton Crown Court heard that the cocaine distributed was of an “import” high quality, which in some cases was 91 per cent pure.

In sentencing, Judge Robin Rowland said: “This was a metropolitan drug operation in which the defendants brought significant quantities of cocaine from Essex to the streets of Southampton.

“Mucmataj is seen to have made at least five trips between the destinations and Bekim Halilaj in Carrington House which was effectively the drug preparation centre.”

Following the hearing, Detective Inspector Tim Ireson said: “This was a complex investigation that focused on an Albanian organised crime group based in Southampton.

“They were in the country illegally and often used sophisticated false identities to allow themselves to remain in the UK and generate significant quantities of cash by selling cocaine.

“Like all cities, those in Hampshire have people who are dependent on illegal drugs and organised crime groups will exploit that.

“Hampshire Constabulary is committed to identifying and tackling these groups that bring so much harm to our cities.”

Mucmataj, 26, The Dell, Southampton has been sentenced to eight years and six months imprisonment.

Bekim Halilaj, 21, The Dell, Southampton has been sentenced to seven years behind bars.

Fitim Halilaj, 27, Therapia Road, East Dulwich, London has been sentenced to four years and six months in jail.

Hela, 24, Russell Hill Road, Croydon, Surrey has also been sentenced to four years and six months.