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PS31m drugs gang jailed for a total of 100 years.

Byline: NAOMI CORRIGAN naomi.corrigan@reachplc.com @NaomiCorrigan

IT was described as one of the biggest drugs rackets in the North.

The total value of drugs and cash seized during the police investigation, which spread from Manchester to Teesside, was in the region of PS31m.

But officers said evidence from books kept by the dealers suggested the whole operation was worth over PS100m.

Described as "sophisticated" and "well-organised", the transpennine crime group was run almost like a legitimate business.

But its sole aim was to line the pockets of its operators by spreading drugs misery through the communities across Teesside, Manchester and beyond.

This week, its gang members, which included four men from Middlesbrough, started sentences totalling more than 100 years.

After receiving intelligence, detectives spent weeks watching the members of the gang and poring over CCTV footage.

Those involved in the operation were seen coming and going from a flat in Manchester, very often with large bags.

These would then be driven up to Teesside in hire cars, before being handed over to buyers for further distribution.

A breakthrough came in late December last year, when officers swooped and arrested the gang's money launderer, Rui Zhu, at Knutsford Services on the M6. He was carrying almost PS400,000 and incriminating documents.

Despite the arrest the criminality continued.

Then in February, drugs courier Kaneil Henry was stopped on the A19 and PS4.3m worth of class A drugs were found in his vehicle. Sat Nav suggested he was on his way to an address in Middlesbrough.

Days later, police searched properties in Manchester and found drugs with a street value of more than PS32m, and PS130,000 in cash.

The drugs included PS30m of cocaine, nearly PS1.4m of heroin, almost PS900,000 of amphetamine and nearly PS130,000 of cannabis.

A machine gun, pistol and bullets were also found hidden in the flats used by the gang.

Among the evidence which nailed the gang to their crimes was an eightpoint drug dealer's 'instruction manual.'.

Points included in the booklet which stated "change car every three or four weeks", "change numbers every two weeks" and "spend PS500 on phones and numbers".

These were all tactics used by the gang to try and stay ahead of police.

The to-do list also said "clean both gaffs" - a reference to both apartments at Canal View - while it also urged the reader to "lock up", "chase dets" (sic) and "stay off grid".

Despite the arrest of their money launderer, CCTV showed the top dog Marcus Callaghan celebrating with his right hand man Theo Henry and the Teesside gangleader Thomas Jaffray.

The trio marked New Year's Eve with table service at an exclusive Edinburgh hotel and bar, meeting with clients who they hoped to do business with.

Together with the head of the North East gang Thomas Jaffrey, Callaghan partied in the VIP lounge and spent PS395 on a magnum of vodka and a bottle of rose champagne.

Middlesbrough men Richard Llewellyn, Thomas Jaffray, Stephen Sewell and Kristian Moloney were part of the transpennine drugs gang.

Jaffray, 34, of The Greenway, pleaded guilty to heroin and cocaine charges.

Richard Llewellyn, 34, of Rowarth Road, admitted three counts of possession with intent to supply controlled drugs, namely heroin, cocaine and amphetamine.

The father-of-three allowed his former home to be used as a safe house for the north east operation. Cocaine worth about PS4.4m was stored there, as well as smaller amounts of heroin and amphetamine.

Stephen Sewell, 38, of Colmore Avenue, was described as a "trusted lieutenant". He was said to have acted under orders from others and was seen to hand over cash in return for the drugs. He also admitted conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs.

Kristian Moloney, 33, of Kenmore Road, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin, amphetamine and cannabis and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime.

Jaffray was jailed for 13 years and four months, Sewell received 10 years and eight months and Llewellyn was jailed for seven years.

Moloney received a term of 11 years and four months in jail.

Callaghan, 34, of Newcastle Street, Hulme, was jailed for 24 years after being found guilty of four counts of conspiracy to supply controlled drugs, and one count of money laundering. He was acquitted of possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

Theo Henry, 30, of Benville Walk, Newton Heath, pleaded guilty in advance of the trial to four counts of conspiracy to supply controlled drugs, one count of money laundering and possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life. He was jailed for 21 years.

Kaneil Henry, 25, of Culmington Close, Hulme, was jailed for 12 years after admitting four counts of conspiracy to supply class A or class B drugs and money laundering. He was found not guilty of possessing the gun and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

Jerome Hamilton, 33, of Northdown Avenue, Hulme, was found guilty of money laundering but acquitted of four counts of conspiracy to supply controlled drugs and possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life. He was jailed for four years. Rui Zhu, 39, of Graham Street, Birmingham, was found guilty of money laundering. He was jailed for six years.

Detective Inspector Jason Pye, from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, said the sentences mark the end of a long but successful investigation into one of the biggest drugs operations in the north.

"While lining their own pockets, members of this crime group never gave a second thought to the harm and misery class A drugs cause within our communities," he said.

Marcus Callaghan

CAPTION(S):

Marcus Callaghan

Richard Llewellyn, one of the Teesside operators

Callghan, Moloney and Jaffray snapped during surveillance

Kaneil Henry was caught with PS4.3m of class A drugs

Cash seized during the investigation

Thomas Jaffray led the Teesside arm of the gang
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 21, 2018
Words:989
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