An organised crime gang has been jailed for almost 35 years for their part in a conspiracy to bring illegal drugs to the streets of Macclesfield.
The nine men were today (Wednesday 23 March) sentenced as part of a high-profile drugs operation in Cheshire.
They received custodial sentences ranging from 12 months to eight years during a hearing at Warrington Crown Court. All had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
All nine were arrested by Cheshire Constabulary in September 2015 following a series of dawn raids at properties in Macclesfield and Merseyside.
The ringleaders of the OCG were Thomas Flanagan and John Hambleton – they operated their business from a property in Sutton Close and were responsible for controlling the drug supply phone, which was used by the gang, as well as facilitating and organising the collection of drugs to their street dealers. They then facilitated meetings between their street dealers with drug users in Macclesfield at different locations.
David Hunter was identified as the courier for the gang and it was his responsibility to collect Heroin and Crack Cocaine on a regular basis from the Liverpool area and drive them back to Macclesfield ready to be sold on.
The street dealers - Joseph McGuire, Michael Green, Daniel Mayers, Adam Harrison, Thomas Jackson and Steven Day - worked on the ground and were responsible for selling the drugs on.
The investigation spanned a period of 12 months and during that time evidence was gathered by a dedicated team of officers from the Covert Policing Unit.
This culminated in the strike phase in September 2015 when raids were carried out at a number of properties in Macclesfield and across the border in Merseyside. These included the homes of Flanagan and Hambleton.
Searches of those properties resulted in £6,000 worth of Class A drugs being seized (some already bagged and ready to sell on) from a kitchen drawer at Hambleton’s home and £6,000 in cash from a wardrobe in Flanagan’s bedroom.
All nine were arrested on the day and subsequently charged.
Detective Sergeant Gavin Day said: “All the defendants had different levels of involvement and control over the supply of drugs in the Macclesfield area. However their aim was clear – to bring illegal drugs onto the streets and sell them on for a profit. They clearly believed they were above the law and showed a blatant disregard for local people carrying out their activities in public places with no thought about the impact it could have on the community.
“Drugs ruin lives and devastate communities and the members of this gang were ignorant to this, purely concentrating on self-gain and profit. Flanagan and Hambleton were key to the organisation of their activity. Residents should not have to live in fear or intimidation of this sort of illegal activity taking place in their neighbourhoods.
“Today, sees the conclusion of a year-long investigation into dismantling that supply of drugs into the town. The sentences handed down send out a strong message that if you choose to come into Cheshire and sell drugs and spread misery then you will end up paying the price for your actions.”
A number of other people were also arrested on the strike day as part of the operation – working as four separate gangs (including this one). The majority of the other defendants have already pleaded guilty and have been sentenced. Three are due to be sentenced in May.
DS Day added: “As part of our investigations we identified a number of criminal gangs, who were working independently and transporting Heroin and Crack Cocaine to Macclesfield. A dedicated team of officers worked tirelessly over a 12 month period to secure evidence against each gang and build a strong case against all those arrested.
“It reinforces the commitment of Cheshire Police that ‘We’re Here’ for our communities and ‘We’re Here’ for justice and sends out a strong message that drug-related activity and its associated crimes will not be tolerated. Cheshire should not be seen as an easy target to criminals.
“Our work does not end here and the war on illegal drugs will continue. I want to reassure residents that we will continue to identify, locate and disrupt those involved in this sort of activity.
“We can only do this with the continued support of local people. Information from the public is vital in our fight against drug-related crime and can make a big difference. I would urge anyone with any information about drug related activity in their area to come forward. There are a number of ways in which you can do this - you can speak to a local neighbourhood officer, call Cheshire Police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.”