Jailed ‘Mr Big’ used drone to f ly in drugs
Armed robber dubbed the Chairman ran £30k racket from his cell
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