Fri, 09 Dec 2011
Three men have been sentenced to a total of 47 years in jail for their part in an organised drugs racket which planned to import, supply and produce Class A Drugs.
The men were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court following a six week trial.
This follows a three and a half year intelligence-led investigation, codenamed Operation Dweomer, by officers from West Midlands Police and partner agencies.
The plot was uncovered following a surveillance operation carried out by officers from West Midlands and partners. This led to a vehicle containing drugs bound for the UK being stopped and seized in August 2009. Following further investigation, a number of arrests were made followed by subsequent charges in January 2011.
As a result of the investigation, heroin with a street value of £1.25 million was seized, together with a substantial amount of cutting agents, used to bulk out Class A drugs.
At court, Gary Edward Henderson 11/12/65 from Station Road, Winsford, Cheshire was sentenced to 16 years after being found guilty of conspiracy to import class A drugs (heroin).
John Clive Millington 12/12/57 from Gladstone Street, Winsford, Cheshire was sentenced to 16 years after being found guilty of conspiracy to import class A drugs (heroin) and conspiracy to supply class A drugs (heroin).
John Paul Ayre 23/12/67 from Glossop, Derbyshire, was sentenced to 12 years after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A drugs (heroin) and 15 years for conspiracy to produce class A drugs (Methamphetamine-Crystal Meth) to run concurrently.
A fourth man who stood trial was found not guilty of conspiring to import heroin.
The investigation began in April 2008 and was intelligence led, supported by Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), UK Border Agency (UKBA) and other police forces.
In May 2010 Ayre and Millington was seen to be moving the cutting agents from Ayre's home address towards Cheshire, and Millington was arrested following short pursuit by police. Ayre was arrested a short time later.
During the investigation, officers recovered 25kg heroin from a vehicle and approximately 75kg of cutting agent chemicals from another address, including lignocaine, caffine and D-Mannitol and 25kg of Iodine which officers believe together with internet searches and correspondence showed a clear plan to produce Crystal Meth. Had this plan been followed through, the value of the Crystal Methamphetamine produced would have had a street value of around £3.4 million.
A West Midlands Police spokesperson said: "This has been a lengthy and painstaking investigation which has taken us across the country and resulted in four significant key members in the drugs trade being taken off the streets. These men were not dealers but organisers in a nationwide and international conspiracy to import and supply class A drugs. The disruption to what was a commercial enterprise to produce Crystal Meth on a scale not previously seen before in the UK was very significant and has prevented real and lasting harm to communities in the Midlands and further afield. We are dedicated to stopping these organised criminals and I am pleased they have been given sentences that reflect the seriousness of their actions."