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Men accused of bringing cocaine from London to Norwich plead guilty at the start of their trial

PUBLISHED: 10:17 04 January 2013

Norwich Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Judd.

Norwich Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Judd.

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Three men accused of bringing cocaine from London to the streets of Norwich admitted their guilt as their trial was about to start.

Florjan Balla, 31, and Elgert Tollja, 29, were due to go on trial at Norwich Crown Court yesterday after initially pleading not guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs together with others between October 1, 2011 and August 8, 2012.

The jury of nine men and three women had already been sworn in, but with the prosecution case about to open the defendants changed their pleas.

Judge Stephen Holt directed the jury to return guilty verdicts against Balla, of Mogden Lane, Isleworth, Middlesex, and Tollja of Gleneagle Road, London.

Judge Holt then informed the jury that a third defendant, Eraldo Eminaj, 25, of Elm Grove, Sutton, Surrey, who had also been due to stand trial with Balla and Tollja also pleaded guilty to the same offence the day before.

All three will be sentenced, together with others who have also previously admitted their involvement in the offence, at a date to be fixed.

The pleas, which are likely to mean a custodial sentence is inevitable, were welcomed by police who led the operation.

Det Insp Russ Watkins, from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) – which is made up of resources from across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Essex to identify, disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups impacting on the eastern region –said: “To secure these three guilty pleas before the case went to a full trial is of great satisfaction as it demonstrates the amount of evidence that these three individuals were facing.

“We continue to combat drug misuse across the eastern region with the support and information sharing with members of the public and focus our energy on disrupting drug production and supply activity.”

ERSOU was established in 2010 to deliver an increased response to tackling the threat of organised crime across the six police forces in the eastern region and to provide specialist covert policing capability to law enforcement.

The unit, one of 10 regional organised crime units in England and Wales, provides the additional capacity and resilience for the region, to use all forms of covert policing tactics against cross border, highly motivated organised criminals.

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