‘STAG­GER­ING’ DRUGS PLOT

26-strong gang sen­tenced to to­tal of 172 years in prison for in­dus­trial-scale sup­ply across N.Wales

Bangor Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Jez Hem­ming

AGANG whose mem­bers flooded North Wales with co­caine on “an in­dus­trial scale” have been locked up for a to­tal of al­most 173 years.

The 26-strong group from Rhyl, Holy­head, Mochdre, Llan­dudno Junc­tion, as well as the Liver­pool and Greater Manch­ester area, were snared by North Wales Po­lice’s Op­er­a­tion Zeus, which tailed them for more than two years.

On Thurs­day, the third day of sen­tenc­ing, seven peo­ple were given al­most 34 years in to­tal as part of a ma­jor drugs con­spir­acy en­velop­ing the North Wales coastal strip and the north-west of Eng­land.

It brings the to­tal sen­tences given out in the trial to 172 years and 11 months.

A po­lice source claimed it was the largest ag­gre­gate sen­tence from a sin­gle trial in liv­ing mem­ory – with the man de­scribed as the head of the op­er­a­tion, Aled Gray, still to be sen­tenced in Jan­uary 2019.

It brought to an end three days of tes­ti­mony, mit­i­ga­tion and sen­tenc­ing for an op­er­a­tion that spanned al­most the en­tire coastal sec­tion of North Wales. All those sen­tenced in that time pleaded guilty to at least be­ing in­volved in a con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine.

The court heard from prose­cu­tor An­drew Jones that two groups, one from Holy­head and one from Llan­dudno, had teamed up with satel­lites in Rhyl and Col­wyn Bay to form a con­sor­tium.

They were sup­plied by as­so­ciates in Manch­ester and Liver­pool – Manch­ester sup­ply­ing co­caine and heroin and Liver­pool sup­ply­ing what were de­scribed as “in­dus­trial amounts” of mix­ing agents such as ben­zo­caine.

One ship­ment con­tained al­most 48kg of the drug which, when mixed at a pu­rity of 13% would yield co­caine with a street value of £1.9m. Po­lice es­ti­mated the value of drug trans­ac­tions they were aware of to be in the re­gion of £2.7m.

Drug seizures made in the op­er­a­tion in­cluded heroin with a street value of £70,700, co­caine and cash, plus cannabis with a street value of £12,500.

Weapons were re­cov­ered and covert record­ings from within a mo­tor ve­hi­cle showed that mem­bers of the crime syn­di­cates were pre­pared to use vi­o­lence if re­quired.

The pu­rity of flake co­caine seized was be­tween 73-90%. More was seized after it had been mixed with ben­zo­caine and lac­tose with a 13% pu­rity.

Dur­ing the op­er­a­tion, which lasted from Oc­to­ber 2015 to Novem­ber 2017, 1.88kg of co­caine was seized and nu­mer­ous meet­ings where drugs were ex­changed were ob­served by un­der­cover of­fi­cers.

The op­er­a­tion be­gan after po­lice were called to an un­re­lated in­ci­dent at the Bos­ton Arms pub in Holy­head in Septem­ber 2015. It was a base for the gang along with the Dublin Packet in the town, both owned by Aled Gray, the head of the Holy­head op­er­a­tion. There they found 248 grams of co­caine at 90% pu­rity and a holdall con­tain­ing £4,000 in cash.

Judge Ni­clas Parry in his gen­eral sen­tenc­ing re­marks de­scribed the op­er­a­tion as “stag­ger­ing”.

He said: “The value of the drugs by drug ex­perts is in the range of £2.7m. The amount of drugs in­volved can only be de­scribed as stag­ger­ing, or po­ten­tially stag­ger­ing. The af­fected ar­eas of North Wales are Holy­head, Llan­dudno and Rhyl.”

SEN­TENC­ING:

● Jor­dan Peeks, 37, known as Ge­orge, of Mal­low Street, Hulme, Manch­ester, was sen­tenced to 10 years in prison for con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine and cannabis.

● Phillip Scaris­brick, 37, of Moss Gate Road, Liver­pool, was sen­tenced to nine-and-a-half years for con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine.

● Lee Bam­ber, 45, of Chol­mond­ley Road, Sal­ford, was said to be a courier for Jor­dan Peeks, meet­ing with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Holy­head and Llan­dudno groups. He was sen­tenced to six years in jail for con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine.

● Cain Jones, 23, of Bod­lon­deb Ter­race, Holy­head. Judge Parry deemed him to have a lead­ing role and sen­tenced him to 12 years in jail for con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine and heroin.

● Lee Eastham Jones, 28, of Elwy Gar­dens, Llan­dudno, sen­tenced to eight years in prison for con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine and cannabis.

● Matthew Jones, 28, of Hazel­wood Close, Col­wyn Bay, con­trolled the Llan­dudno crime group. He was de­scribed as play­ing a lead role in the “con­sor­tium” and was sen­tenced to 12 years jail for con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine and cannabis.

● Wil­liam Carlisle, 27, of Abergele Road, Col­wyn Bay, was sen­tenced to 10-and-a-half years for con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine and cannabis.

● Richard Blake Wil­liams, 25, of Cleve­land Crescent, Holy­head, was con­cerned in the sup­ply of heroin and co­caine in Holy­head. He was con­victed of con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine and heroin and was sen­tenced to 10 years in prison by Judge Parry.

● Jay Peeks, 33, of Mal­low Street, Sal­ford was sen­tenced to six-and-a-half years for con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine.

● Liam Roberts, 30, of Se­a­bank Road, Rhyl. The judge took into ac­count his bar­ris­ter Duncan Bould say­ing Roberts has men­tal health prob­lems and has not re­acted well to life in­side. Judge Parry sen­tenced him to fourand-a-half years in jail.

● De­spite ar­rests be­ing made, two of the con­spir­a­tors, ex-part­ners Christo­pher Ben­nett and Hay­ley Evans, car­ried on deal­ing co­caine around Col­wyn Bay.

Evans, 29, of Ffordd y Maer, Mochdre, was jailed for two years for the main con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine and a con­sec­u­tive 12-month term for con­spir­ing to sup­ply co­caine with her ex-part­ner, mak­ing three years in to­tal.

Ben­nett, 35, of Beech Mount, Col­wyn Bay, was sen­tenced to four years and eight months for his part in the main con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine, and a fur­ther 18 months for the con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine with his ex­part­ner Evans, mak­ing a to­tal sen­tence of six years and four months.

● David Cuf­fin, 42, of Pon­th­wfa Ter­race, Holy­head. His ad­dress was used to “store, adul­ter­ate and re-man­u­fac­ture class A” drugs, ac­cord­ing to the pros­e­cu­tion.

He re­ceived six years and nine months for con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine and heroin.

● Thomas Mid­dle­ton, 23, of Beach Close, Holy­head, pro­vided dis­tri­bu­tion for the western arm of the group and was also sup­ply­ing con­sid­er­able amounts of MDMA.

He was sen­tenced to four years and six months for the main con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine, and a fur­ther two years to run con­sec­u­tively for possess­ing MDMA with in­tent to sup­ply, mak­ing six and a half years in to­tal.

● Eric Row­lands, 48, of Tara Street, Holy­head, was jailed for five years and four months.

● Gareth Hastie, 37, of Abergele Road, Col­wyn Bay, was found guilty of pro­duc­ing cannabis and con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine, and was sen­tenced to five years and four months.

● James Hendry, 42, of Lon Goed, Llan­dudno Junc­tion, was ar­rested in a car­a­van on his drive which was be­ing used to “adul­ter­ate” the co­caine to a lesser pu­rity ready for sale. Hendry re­ceived a sen­tence of five years and four months.

● An­drew Al­dred, 31, of Hawar­den Road, Col­wyn Bay. Judge Parry sen­tenced him to five years and four months for his part in the con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine.

● Nathan Jeav­ons, 25, of Cwrt Elin, Erw Wen Road, Col­wyn Bay, was de­scribed as an­other “trusted dis­trib­u­tor” of co­caine.

His ba­sis of plea was ac­cepted and he was sen­tenced to six years and four months in jail.

● Ben Hay­ward, 24, of Maes Llan, Eglwys­bach, Col­wyn Bay, was a down­stream sup­plier re­spon­si­ble for mov­ing “sig­nif­i­cant amounts of co­caine” said the pros­e­cu­tion. He was sen­tenced to four years for his part in the con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine.

● Shaun Kearns, 46, of Swin­don Close, Liver­pool. Judge Parry said: “You were in­volved in this con­spir­acy for a short time but you would have been aware of what was hap­pen­ing here.”

Kearns was sen­tenced to three years and 10 months in jail for con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine.

● Dar­ren Myles, 42, of Wind­sor View, Tox­teth, Liver­pool, was trans- port­ing ben­zo­caine to North Wales with Scaris­brick. He was stopped by po­lice with two card­board bar­rels con­tain­ing 47.5kg of the drug in his tran­sit van.

Judge Parry said: “Your case is more se­ri­ous as you were car­ry­ing large amounts of ben­zo­caine. You were sen­tenced to 54 months in cus­tody for sup­ply­ing drugs and you were on li­cence for that when you com­mit­ted this of­fence.”

He was sen­tenced to nine years for his part in the con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine.

● Zach Leuty, 29, of Lake Av­enue, Rhyl, was said to be the head of the Rhyl arm of the dis­tri­bu­tion op­er­a­tion. There were nu­mer­ous in­ci­dences recorded by po­lice of him con­tact­ing Matty Jones and Wil­liam Carlisle who ran op­er­a­tions around Col­wyn Bay and Llan­dudno. He was sen­tenced to six years for con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine with his sus­pended sen­tence ac­ti­vated to run con­cur­rently.

● Si­mon Far­rar, 39, of Ffordd y Maer, Mochdre, Conwy, was recorded dis­cussing “prices and strat­egy” as part of an­other covert op­er­a­tion called Ulysses.He re­ceived a sen­tence of four years and eight months.

● Kelly Mercer, 29, of Maes Derw, Llan­dudno Junc­tion, was said to suf­fer from men­tal health dif­fi­cul­ties and her coun­sel Mr James Coutts pleaded for le­niency and a pos­si­ble sus­pended sen­tence from Judge Parry as she had a small child. The Judge sen­tenced her to 18 months cus­tody for con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine.

● Barry Haigh, 36, of Tan yr Efail, Holy­head­Judge Parry said: “The role that you played is prop­erly de­scribed as a sig­nif­i­cant role. There was an in­volve­ment with se­ri­ous con­spir­a­tors.” He was sen­tenced to four years and six months for his part in the con­spir­acy to sup­ply co­caine.

● All those sen­tenced will serve half of their time and will re­main on li­cence for the rest, mean­ing if they com­mit an of­fence they will be re­called to jail to fin­ish their sen­tence in full.

Cain Jones of Holy­head was jailed for 12 years for his ‘lead­ing’ role in a ma­jor drugs con­spir­acy

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