A DRUGS gang who plotted to flood Cheshire with heroin and cocaine have been jailed for 152 years.
The Merseyside-based gang trafficked Class A drugs worth millions of pounds to Cheshire, Lancashire, Scotland and South Wales.
Gang leaders controlled the supply of drugs to large parts of the UK and used couriers in Ellesmere Port to target drug addicts.
Couriers also took drugs to Preston, Cardiff and Glasgow.
Officers from the North West regional organised crime unit Titan arrested the gang after an eight-month operation.
In total, officers seized 9.25kg of heroin, 8.25kg of cocaine, 12kg of amphetamine, 11,370 class C BZP tablets with an estimated wholesale value of £1m together with £37,000 cash.
Twelve men and a woman involved in the multi-million pound conspiracy were sentenced to a total of 152 years at Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday.
The gang was led by John Cooke, 32, from Birkdale, James Swarez, 40, from Crosby, Paul McDonald, 44, from Huyton and Brian Harrison, 50, from Speke.
All four admitted conspiracy to supply class A drugs and were jailed for between six and 17 years.
Cooke, of Walmer Road and Swarez, of Queen’s Road, received 17 years, McDonald, of Fernbank Road, was jailed for 15 years and Harrison, of Harefield Green, for six years and eight months.
Det Supt Jason Hudson from Titan said: “The sentences reflect the severity of the scourge of drugs on our streets.
“We launched a lengthy investigation into this organised crime unit and obtained evidence that ensured some major players in the drugs trade have been taken out of action for a considerable amount of time.
“While some of the gang were used as couriers, others such as Cooke, Swarez, McDonald and Harrison were at the top of the hierarchy of this group and their lifestyles show they made huge amounts of money through their criminal activities.
The methods used to distribute the drugs show a level of sophistication.
“They are now facing a considerable amount of time behind bars and will be stripped of all their ill-gotten gains sending a strong message to anyone involved in organised crime, or thinking of getting involved, that no-one is untouchable and you will be found and brought to justice.”
The Cheshire connection
POLICE investigating drug dealing searched a number of addresses in the Ellesmere Port area last October.
During these searches, officers recovered 12 wraps of cocaine and a kilogram of benzocaine and charged three Ellesmere Port men with conspiracy to supply controlled drugs.
Lee Jones, 32, of Luton Road, was jailed on May 25 for eight years and eight months and Carl Mattison, 37, of Swale Road, received six years and eight months.
Simon Howard, 43, of Woolton Court, pleaded guility and will be sentenced on October 19 at Chester Crown Court.