Five men have been jailed after detectives smashed a wholesale drug supply ring operating across the West Midlands. 

Detectives from the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit (WMROCU) exposed the drug supply ring with those involved being jailed for a combined total of more than 40 years. 

Police said Ringleader Joshua Poulton was instrumental in the distribution of hundreds of kilos of cocaine across the West Midlands and was the main supplier in Acocks Green and Shirley. 

In November 2021, officers moved to arrest him as he drove on Coventry Road in Small Heath, but the 29-year-old from Louise Court in Shirley made off and abandoned his vehicle. 

Stourbridge News: Joshua Poulton Joshua Poulton (Image: West Midlands Police)

An international manhunt was launched as Poulton moved from the United Arab Emirates to South America, Portugal and Spain where he was detained by Spanish authorities at a roadblock in Estepona in August 2022. 

In July 2023, Poulton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine at Birmingham Crown Court and was jailed on Friday (March 15) for 15 years and six months. 

During the investigation, Ashleigh Emery, aged 37, from Station Road in Lapworth, Warwickshire, was identified as Poulton's right-hand man and he fled to Dubai. 

Emery later returned to the UK and handed himself in. He was also jailed on Friday for 12 years. 

Three other accomplices were sentenced for conspiracy to supply cocaine alongside Poulton and Emery after they were arrested in Autumn 2022. 

Stourbridge News: Clockwise: Asleigh Emery, Keith Kirby, Shaun O'Keefe and Jack EmeryClockwise: Asleigh Emery, Keith Kirby, Shaun O'Keefe and Jack Emery (Image: West Midlands Police)

Keith Kirby, aged 37, from The Green, Northfield, was jailed for 11 years and six months. 

Jack Emery, aged 32, from Buckbury Croft, Solihull, received six years and Shaun O'Keefe, aged 38, from Cateswell Road, Hall Green, was sentenced to four years and five months. 

Detective Constable Lewis Poppitt, from WMROCU, said: "This was a complex investigation which has already seen nine other accomplices jailed for more than 59 years over the past 15 months. 

"We have seized more than 15 kilos of cocaine and £100,000 in cash through their ill-gotten gains.

"Detailed phone analysis has helped secure convictions for these five and I am pleased they have received lengthy sentences." 

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