Five drug dealers have been jailed for more than 28 years following a police investigation into drug supply within Hastings.

Sussex Police received information in spring 2022 that Class A drugs were being sold by a criminal network in the Hastings area and officers launched an investigation, working closely with the Metropolitan Police.

Led by the Sussex Police and Surrey Police Centurion team and the Met Police Orochi team, both dedicated to tackling county lines, officers conducted warrants and searches across the town, leading to the arrests and charges of five individuals.

Melik Yalcin, 29, of Warrior Square, St Leonards, was charged with being concerned in the supply of cocaine; being concerned in the supply of Class B drugs; possession of criminal property; and concealing criminal property.

Robert Longstaffe, 36, of Strood Road, St Leonards, was charged with being concerned in the supply of cocaine; being concerned in the supply of Class B drugs; possession with intent to supply cocaine; possession with intent to supply Class b drugs; possession of criminal property; and concealing criminal property.

Harry White, 28, of Snowdrop Rise, St Leonards, was charged with being concerned in the supply of cocaine; being concerned in the supply of Class B drugs; and possession with intent to supply cocaine.

Allen Swatkins, 47, of Susans Road, Eastbourne, was charged with being concerned in the supply of cocaine; being concerned in the supply of Class B drugs; possession of cocaine; and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.

Jordan Panice, 32, of Danum Close, Hailsham, was charged with being concerned in the supply of cocaine; conspiring to supply Class B drugs; and participating in the criminal activities of an organised crime group.

Through detailed analysis of mobile phones and messages, Yalcin was identified as leading the criminal enterprise and using others such as Longstaffe and White to distribute and store the drugs. Upon Yalcin’s arrest, £34,000 in cash was located and seized along with a Mercedes car worth over £60,000.

The phone analysis also showed that Panice was providing Yalcin with multiple kilograms of cannabis from wholesale suppliers, making a profit without touching any of the substances, and Swatkins was seen to be purchasing wholesale amounts of cocaine from Yalcin, breaking the drugs down for onward supply within the Eastbourne area.

On 6 November 2023, Swatkins, Panice and Yalcin appeared at Lewes Crown Court. Yalcin was sentenced to 12 years for being concerned in the supply of cocaine and cannabis, Swatkins was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for being concerned in the supply of cocaine and cannabis, and Panice was sentenced to four years for being concerned in the supply of cocaine and cannabis.

Four days later on 10 November, Longstaffe and White were sentenced at Lewes Crown Court. Longstaffe received three years and nine months’ imprisonment for being concerned in the supply of cocaine and cannabis, and White received three years’ imprisonment for being concerned in the supply of cocaine and possession with intent to supply a cocaine.

All five men had entered an early guilty plea.

PC Lee Munday of the Op Centurion team, said: “Yalcin was the head of an organised criminal organisation using associates to store and supply drugs on his behalf. He flooded Hastings with kilos of cocaine and cannabis, and supplied street dealers in surrounding areas with harmful substances too. We worked closely with Metropolitan Police officers, and spent hundreds of hours scanning mobile phone messages in order to bring these criminals to justice.

“The sentences handed to these five individuals reflect the severity of the crime and the dangerous impact Class A and B drugs can have on a person and the wider community. The message from the Centurion team is clear – if you supply drugs within Sussex and Surrey, you will be arrested and brought to justice for your crimes.”

Top row left to right: Allen Swatkins, Harry White, Jordan Panice.
Bottom row left to right: Melik Yalcin, Robert Longstaffe.