A GANG led by a Wigan dealer who were nailed for one of the region’s biggest ever drugs hauls has been jailed for a total of more than 47 years.
The sixth and final member of the outfit, which peddled cannabis and cocaine in many parts of the North West, was sent to prison by a Liverpool Crown Court judge yesterday.
Cocaine and cannabis were seized by the police with a combined street value of over £365,000 from the Wigan area, along with over £29,000 in cash from Ormskirk and WiganRob Smith - Senior Crown Prosecutor
At its head was Gerrard Gandy, from Orrell Road, Orrell, who had already been sent down for 14 years after admitting money laundering and conspiring to supply cocaine.
The 34-year-old was one of six people arrested under Lancashire Police’s serious crime crackdown called Operation Taurus, one of whose successes – in partnership with Hampshire Police – included the recovery of £12m worth of the class A drug after raiding a caravan in St Helens.
Further drugs and cash seizures were made in Wigan.
The court heard that Gandy, along with 34-year-old Gareth Mawdsley, from Bleasdale Close, Aughton, were the ringleaders. Mawdsley and courier James Moran, 33, of Banksbarn, Skelmersdale, were given sentences of 16 and 10 years respectively after admitting the same charges as Gandy.
At another hearing Mawdsley’s partner Kelly Carmichael, also of Bleasdale Close, Aughton, was found guilty of assisting an offender and was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment suspended for two years, 18 months supervision and 240 hours unpaid work; and John Green, 30, of Windrows, Skelmersdale, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply and was jailed for six years.
And yesterday the final piece of the jigsaw clicked into place when Graeme Hawkes, 29, of Carfield, Skelmersdale, was sentenced to 18 months in prison at Liverpool Crown Court after being found guilty of two counts of assisting an offender. It took the total sentence for the gang to 47 years and six months.
Rob Smith, Senior Crown Prosecutor for the North West Complex casework Unit said: “Today the final gang member has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for his involvement in this North West drugs operation.
“Cocaine and cannabis were seized by the police with a combined street value of over £365,000 from the Wigan area, along with over £29,000 in cash from Ormskirk and Wigan.
“Gerrard Gandy and Gareth Mawdsley were the joint heads of the gang whilst James Moran and John Green were couriers for the drugs and money.
“When Gareth Mawdsley became aware other gang members were being arrested he quickly left the country, assisted by his partner Kelly Carmichael and Graeme Hawkes. Carmichael arranged for money to be sent to him and visited him whilst he was in Spain. Hawkes drove him along with Gerrard Gandy through the Channel Tunnel and onto Spain.
“Mawdsley and Gandy returned to the UK a few months later, once they thought the heat would have died down, but were soon arrested by police for their involvement in the operation.
“The CPS and police have worked closely together to bring strong cases against all six defendants resulting in their convictions and sentences. We will continue to work together to bring to justice all those involved in gangs, drugs and money laundering in order to clean up the streets of the North West for all law abiding citizens to safely go about their daily lives.”
The seizure of 35kg of high purity cocaine from the caravan on Fleet Lane, St Helens, area of Merseyside along with more than £200,000 in cash, was the biggest cocaine haul in Lancashire Police’s history.
Lancashire’s SOCU worked with Hampshire Police throughout the operation to investigate the supply of cocaine across England, particularly Skelmersdale, Lancashire, Merseyside and Hampshire.