Drugs gang caught with 15kg heroin in a cat carrier jailed
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Fourteen members of an organised crime gang who were dealing drugs in and out of Derbyshire have been jailed for more 90 years.
The men were convicted as part of a two-year long investigation led by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) and Derbyshire officers into a major Class A drugs conspiracy.
It is estimated that during a 10-week period alone they obtained and distributed more than 42kg of cocaine and heroin, generating around £370,000 in revenue.
The investigation between 2020 and 2022 found the group were operating throughout the North Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire area.
They would communicate over mobile phones using encrypted messaging systems, and were known to meet in rural areas, country parks, laybys off major roads and pub or shop car parks, where they would exchange drugs and cash.
Matthew Moss, of Morton, was found to be the ringleader of the group. He managed the so-called business, coordinating larger deliveries of drugs to others in the group who would then in turn organise onward dealing and collection of cash.
Moss was arrested in February 2022 on the Stockley Trail alongside three others, when police stopped two of the cars they were believed to be using. He was found in possession of 1kg of cocaine.
Drugs would be brought in from outside of the area, with Muhammad Abbas, of Leeds, stopped with 15kg of heroin, and Kashif Ishaq of Oldham with 3kg of cocaine.
Abbas was arrested by police on the M1 northbound in Leicestershire in April 2022. They stopped his blue Citroen C1 and found a cat carrier stuffed full of 15kg of heroin destined for dealing by the group.
Further arrests and charges followed after a series of warrants, including Moss’ deputy, Jason Leatherland, of Shirebrook in May 2022.
All fourteen men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A controlled drugs. They were sentenced across Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 December at Derby Crown Court.
After deductions and credit, the sentences were:
Matthew Moss (45) of Oakview Gardens, Morton: 14 years imprisonment.
Jason Leatherland (50) of Rowan Drive, Shirebrook: 14 years imprisonment.
Danny Furniss (37) of Chesterfield Road, Grassmoor: Seven years imprisonment.
Matthew Short (50) of Ashgate Road, Chesterfield: Six years and four months imprisonment.
Luke Kesteven (35) of Broughton Street, Beeston: Six years imprisonment.
Paul Bingham (58) of Scarsdale Street, Bolsover: Six years imprisonment.
Gary O’Grady (43) of Lime Avenue, Staveley: Six years imprisonment.
Wayne Benger (49) of Layton Avenue, Mansfield: Six years imprisonment.
David Harrison (37) of Wingerworth Terrace, Grassmoor: Five years and seven months imprisonment.
Alex Montgomery (43) of Charnwood Grove, Mansfield: Five years and three months imprisonment.
Kashif Ishaq (31) of Hadfield Street, Oldham: Four years and 10 months imprisonment.
Thomas Pearson (29) of Oakview Gardens, Morton: Four years and six months imprisonment.
Muhammad Abbas (21) of Lodge Lane, Leeds: Four years imprisonment
Carl Hill (50) of St Augustine’s Road, Chesterfield: 18 months imprisonment
Four weapons were also seized and taken off the streets as part of the investigation- a knuckle duster, sword, taser and USB stun gun- which were found during searches.
Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Smethem said: “We welcome the sentences handed to Moss, Leatherland and their associates, who have collectively been put behind bars for more than 90 years following a lengthy investigation.
“Thanks to the hard work of officers during this complex investigation, these individuals are now facing the consequences of their actions and a large amount of class A drugs and weapons have been taken off the streets.
T/DCI Smethem added: “The convictions allow for consideration of confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act, which looks to identify the full extent of the group’s financial benefit.
“Thousands of pounds of cash were recovered as a result of searches and arrests and these sums along with other known assets, will be used in the calculations for Confiscation Orders.”
His Honour Judge Shaun Smith KC presided over the case. He offered praise for the investigation and case overall.
He said: “These are very difficult operations. Struck twofold, first of all the scope and care that has been given to the scope of the investigation- it was massive and has brought to justice a good number of defendants. The police are to be commended for their work. These are difficult cases. They have thwarted a massive operation."
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