Police chiefs have spoken of their delight at the 50-year combined sentence handed to a gang flooding the Fylde coast with Class A drugs.
The Gazette revealed yesterday that 13 people had been jailed following Operation Duroy– a covert investigation by Lancashire Constabulary’s West Targeted Crime Unit into the large-scale supply of heroin and crack cocaine in the Blackpool area.
The sentencing actually took place in April, but reporting restrictions were put in place until two of the men, Michael White and Jake Smith, faced trial for a violent family house robbery in Longridge in February 2014, where guns, money and jewellery were stolen.
Gang leader Leon Foster, from Liverpool, received 12 years for masterminding the ‘Scouse Josh’ operation, which saw a Liverpool-based gang bring drugs into Blackpool, using street dealers and drug addicts from the resort to peddle heroin and crack cocaine. Det Insp Kev Simmons, of Blackpool Police, said: “This operation has dismantled a gang responsible for the supply of hundreds of thousands of pounds of drugs into Blackpool. Their activities not only brought misery to those addicted to drugs and their loved ones, they preyed on the vulnerable by often taking over their homes and using those addresses as a base for dealing. “That these people have now been removed from our neighbourhoods is down to the determination and professionalism of the staff of Lancashire Constabulary in pursuing and bringing to justice organised and lifestyle criminals who blight our communities.
“I ask the public for their continued support in reporting information so we can keep our neighbourhoods safe. “I hope these sentences show just how determined the criminal justice system is, supported by our communities, in preventing criminals from operating with impunity. If you are involved in that type of activity, we will find you and put you before the courts.”
Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: “Thanks to the tireless efforts of police, we have been able to dismantle an organised drug ring that was flooding the resort with around £1m of drugs a year.
We have removed a substantial quantity of drugs from this supply chain
“This group preyed on the vulnerable and their persistent illegal activity has ruined lives. These sentences send a clear message to criminals who target our communities that we will not tolerate it.”
Zoe Salter, senior crown prosecutor for CPS North West said: “This organised crime gang were responsible for flooding the streets of Blackpool with Class A drugs.
“Leon Foster was the main man who orchestrated the supply chain from a house in Liverpool.
“He managed a phone which received hundreds of calls each day, he would then delegate deliveries. He had middlemen strategically based in Blackpool and when one was arrested, another would soon be appointed so that there was no break in service.
“The Crown Prosecution Service has worked closely with Lancashire Police to disrupt the activities of this drugs gang. Together we have removed a substantial quantity of drugs from this supply chain and those involved have been removed from society, making the streets of Blackpool a safer place to live, work and visit.”