Drugs gang jailed for a total of 42 years

Posted on 9th November 2012

Dormer Riley Radford

A gang involved in a multi-million pound scheme to import the cutting agent benzocaine into the UK have been jailed for a total of 42 years and six months.

The organised crime group brought over 600 kilos of the powder into the country from China, with the supply chain then stretching across the south of England and into Derbyshire, Lancashire and Manchester.

Benzocaine can be legitimately used by dentists and vets but is more commonly used as a cutting agent for cocaine, as mixing it with the class A drug will increase profits. In this way, it has been estimated that the adulterated powder could have eventually had a street value of over £48million.

Lancashire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit’s launched Operation Bramble to tackle the gang and worked with colleagues in Derbyshire Constabulary, the national Serious and Organised Crime Agency and the UK Border Agency to smash the supply chain and remove potentially harmful substances from the nation’s streets.

Preston Crown Court heard how 31-year-old Clifford Hall, of Whaddon Way, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, was importing large amounts of benzocaine into the country from China, with the packages being delivered to Burnley and Ripley, in Derbyshire. The packages were then transported via Manchester back down to Milton Keynes.

Searches were carried out in March and September 2011, with officers finding various drugs at Hall’s home. In June 2011 traces of benzocaine, cocaine and other drugs were found following raids at addresses in Manchester.

Following a trial at Preston Crown Court, Hall was found guilty of assisting in the supply of class A drugs, possession of a class B with intent to supply, possession of a class C drug with intent to supply and possession of a class C drug. Appearing again, he was sentenced to seven years

Christopher Pounder, 26, of Parkinson Street, Burnley, was jailed for five years having pleaded guilty to assisting in the supply of class A drugs.

30-year-old Simon Walsh, previously of Tetlow Street, Middleton, was jailed for eight years having pleaded guilty to assisting in the supply of class A drugs.

Robert McAloney, 36, of The Downs, Middleton, was jailed for two years and eight months having pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis with intent to supply; possession of a class B drug with intent to supply and assisting in the supply of a class A drug.

Lee Whitworth was jailed for 16 months having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply a class A drug.

Benjamin Lawrence was jailed for two years having pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of a class A drug.

Thomas Dormer, 23, of Warmwells Lane, Ripley, was sentenced to two years having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply a class A drug; possession of a class ‘B’ drug with intent to supply and possession of the class B drug amphetamine. He has already served this time on remand in prison and will therefore be released.

Neil Riley, 36, of Butterley Mews, Ripley, was jailed for four years and eight months having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply a class A drug; conspiracy to supply a class B drug and possession of the class B drug amphetamine with intent to supply.

David Radford, 45, of Heath Road, Ripley, was sentenced to two years for having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply a class A drug; conspiracy to supply a class B drug and possession of a class B drug. He has already served this time on remand in prison and will therefore be released.

Darryl Walsh was jailed for eight years having pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of a class A drug and assisting in the supply of a class A drug.

Theo Samuels, 22, of Tetlow Street, Middleton, was sentenced to 12 months, suspended for two years having pleaded guilty to possession of a class B drug and assisting in the supply of a controlled drug.

Sarah Elliot was sentenced to eight months, suspended for two years having pleaded guilty to assisting in the supply of a controlled drug.

Detective Inspector Graham Gallagher, of Lancashire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), said: “The gang imported at least 485 kilos of benzocaine into the UK. This is a substantial amount – almost 20 times the annual importation amount of the leading industry user. When cut, this meant the gang were responsible for potentially over £48million worth of adulterated cocaine hitting our streets, creating untold misery.

“Drugs cause damage to our communities; they blight our neighbourhoods and fuel other crime, with burglaries and robberies often carried out to fund a drug habit.

“This destructive force was created by Hall and his associates, who were greedy and who sought to maximise their profits by bringing cutting agents into the country. They are now facing time in jail and their sentences show the determination of our Serious and Organised Crime Unit when it comes to identifying professional, organised and lifestyle criminals who cause harm to our communities and then putting them behind bars.”

Detective Chief Inspector Sean Dawson, Derbyshire Constabulary’s senior investigating officer in the case, said: “As part of this investigation, Derbyshire officers carried out undercover inquiries into an organised crime group operating around the town of Ripley. 

“This group were actively involved in importing benzocaine from China into Derbyshire so that this could be used as a cutting agent for cocaine. They were also working with other criminal groups across the country.

“The excellent, co-ordinated investigations by police in Lancashire and Derbyshire have been critical to securing these convictions and sending a strong message to those involved in the supply of drugs that we will find you and bring you to justice.”

 

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