MEMBERS of a major Wigan-based drugs ring have been caged for a total of 48 years.
A court heard the four men were involved in plots to peddle heroin and cocaine with a street value of more than £1m.
They were caught as part of an investigation conducted by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, which centred on a conspiracy to buy class A drugs in London and sell them on the streets of Wigan.
Yesterday a quartet of key gang members was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court.
Daniel Tang, 35, of Legh Street, Golborne, described as a “leading participant” was jailed for 18 years. He had been convicted of two conspiracies to supply cocaine and heroin. Drugs courier Lee Harris, 39, of Warrington Road, Ince, who was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine by a majority verdict, was sentenced to five years.
John Rasburn, 34, of no fixed address but previously of Gibson Street, Bickershaw, who admitted plotting to supply cocaine and was caught with £500,000 worth of the drug during a police raid in Wigan, was jailed for 10 years. A jury could not agree on the heroin plot and that charge was ordered to lie on the file.
Kurt Blondell, 31, of Mace Street, London, received 15 years. He had been convicted of the cocaine plot.
Other members of the two gangs, including the source of the drugs, are to be sentenced at a later date.
During the two-month trial the jury heard that the conspiracies, which both ran between March 1 and August 24, 2010, involved a London based group and a Wigan based group.
Drugs with a total value of about £740,000 were seized by police in two separate raids but jailing the men Judge John Phipps said that he was satisfied there had been other successful drugs transactions and the total amount of cocaine was about 5kg.
On June 17, 2010 police raided a house in Millers Lane, Platt Bridge, Wigan, and seized 2kg of cocaine with a street value of £500,000. Rasburn and two other men, including one who had brought the drugs from London, were caught at the scene.
The next day Tang went to London to discuss with the suppliers about what had gone wrong.
On July 26 Harris was recruited by Tang as a courier to deliver cash to the London gang and to collect drugs to bring back north. On this occasion something went wrong and he came back empty handed.
“Tang and Rasburn took organisational roles in the North West,” said the judge. “Tang was a leading participant, directing, organising and recruiting.
“Despite the drugs seized on June 17 and heroin seized on April 21 his involvement continued right to the end,” said Judge Phipps.
Tang was involved with others, to be sentenced later, in the concurrent heroin plot during which 3kg of heroin, worth more than £150,000, was seized, he said.
Judge Phipps described Rasburn as his right hand man who took a leading role until his arrest on June 17. He said that Harris had played a lesser role
After the hearing Det Insp Michael Fraser of The North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “This case proves that we have listened to the concerns of local residents and acted on them.
“No criminal is untouchable and this success demonstrates that, with the right information, we can arrest anyone.
“This investigation has been possible because of the collaboration of the North West forces. Several different tiers of organised crime involved in the supply and distribution of class A controlled drugs throughout the North West have been removed.
“The message should be clear, with the collaboration of the North West forces under NWROCU we will continue to target those criminals who commit serious offences that cross force boundaries.”
Benson Okali, 35, of Gardner Court, Kelvin Grove, London, has been convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine. He was found guilty following a trial and will be sentenced at a later date, yet to be fixed.
The following men pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing and will also be sentenced on a date yet to be fixed.
Dean Jones, 31, of Eastgarth, Platt Bridge, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin.
Kelvin Jones, 39, of Carr Street, Platt Bridge, pleaded guilty to supplying heroin.
Ryan Hackett, 37, of Cliftonville Road, Warrington, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin.
Keith Prescott, 51, of Warrington Road, Abram, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Kim Dedier, 24, of Stiven Crescent, Harrow, Middlesex, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.
BREAKDOWN OF VIDEO FOOTAGE: Image 1 and 2 - heroin seized from VW Golf drive by Kelvin Jones on 21 April 2010. Moving footage of Rasburn, Dedier and Tang leaving Tang’s house in Platt Bridge. Moving footage of Dedier bringing drugs in a red bag to Dean Jones on 17 June 2010, following by stills of bag and drugs inside the house. Moving footage and stills of L-R Okoli, Blondell and Tang at London meeting.