Jailed ‘Mr Big’ used drone to f ly in drugs

Armed rob­ber dubbed the Chair­man ran £30k racket from his cell

Daily Mail - - News - By Liz Hull

A GANG­LAND ‘ Mr Big’ or­ches­trated a smug­gling racket from his prison cell and tried to fly up to £30,000 of drugs in­side via drone, a court heard.

Armed rob­ber Dar­ren Dunn, 35, acted as the ‘chair­man’ of his lu­cra­tive drug de­liv­ery busi­ness, which he ran from his cell in For­est Bank jail in Sal­ford, Greater Manch­ester.

Us­ing a con­tra­band mo­bile phone he or­gan­ised his six-strong gang of ‘op­er­a­tional di­rec­tors’ to im­port drugs from Spain and fly a ‘trea­sure trove’ of goods – in­clud­ing phones, SIM cards, cannabis, steroids and ‘ zom­bie drug’ spice – in­side the prison walls. At least one pris­oner bur­rowed a hand-sized hole in the ex­te­rior wall of his cell so he could grab de­liv­er­ies flown in by de­vices hov­er­ing out­side, Manch­ester Crown Court was told.

But the op­er­a­tion was foiled when po­lice spot­ted one of Dunn’s as­so­ciates loi­ter­ing out­side the 1,500-in­mate jail.

Sean Tierney, 25, es­caped but his ruck­sack – con­tain­ing a drone and £28,000 of mar­i­juana, Spice and steroids – was seized.

Ten mo­bile phones, which can fetch up to £500 each when sold in prison, were also found hid­den in­side a knot­ted sock.

Ex­pert anal­y­sis re­vealed the drone had been used on 41 recorded flights in and around the prison, with at least two mak­ing de­liv­er­ies in­side.

Two iPhones were later found dur­ing a search of Dunn’s cell – among more than 550 dis­cov­ered by po­lice at the prison over a year. Records re­vealed Dunn was in reg­u­lar con­tact with his as­so­ciates in the lead up to the drone drops in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber last year.

A woman who had a child with Dunn had more than £ 10,000 de­posited into her bank ac­count

as a re­sult of the op­er­a­tion, the court heard. Yes­ter­day Dunn, from Walk­den, Sal­ford, was be­gin­ning a ten year sen­tence af­ter plead­ing guilty to con­spir­acy to con­vey ar­ti­cles into prison, con­spir­acy to im­port class B drugs and money laun­der­ing. The court heard Dunn had orig­i­nally been handed an in­de­ter­mi­nate sen­tence in 2008 for pub­lic pro­tec­tion af­ter he was in­volved in a se­ries of cash-in-tran­sit van rob­beries, in which guards were held at gun­point and threat­ened with sledge­ham­mers, crow­bars and an axe. He served eight years be­fore be­ing re­leased in Fe­bru­ary 2016 but last sum­mer was or­dered back to jail for 40 months af­ter be­ing ar­rested over an ar­son at­tack. How­ever, this did not stop Dunn’s crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.

Sen­tenc­ing Dunn, Judge Ti­mothy Edwards told him he had been ‘run­ning a busi­ness from your own prison cell’.

He added: ‘You played a lead­ing role in the or­gan­i­sa­tion and ex­e­cu­tion of these of­fences whilst serv­ing your prison sen­tence.’

‘There were at least two drone in­ci­dents – they are con­sid­er­ably lu­cra­tive and so­phis­ti­cated and what was be­ing run was an or­gan­ised op­er­a­tion with you the chair­man sat in a cell in A Wing and oth­ers as your op­er­a­tional di­rec­tors.

‘A num­ber of drones flew over For­est Bank with a trea­sure trove of illicit con­tra­band in­clud­ing cannabis, sy­ringes, steroids, spice and mo­bile phones.

‘It is un­clear how many were suc­cess­ful but a sig­nif­i­cant quan­tity of drugs were found. The harm caused is in­cal­cu­la­ble.’

Tierney, of Sal­ford, was even­tu­ally ar­rested and jailed for 28 months af­ter ad­mit­ting pos­ses­sion with in­tent to sup­ply class B drugs. The other five mem­bers of the gang were jailed for a to­tal of 22 years and six months.

Mas­ter­mind: Dar­ren Dunn

Drop-off: Con­tra­band was smug­gled into For­est Bank jail in Sal­ford

Brazen: The drone used to trans­port drugs and phones

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