Wigan gang members jailed for more than 80 years after police seize drugs worth millions of pounds
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The sentencing of Lee Standen, 42, of Liverpool Road, Hindley, who was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine, means the gang’s members have been jailed for more than 80 years in total.
In 2020, police forces across the UK were given hundreds of thousands of messages from a once-encrypted messaging platform by the National Crime Agency.
It had infiltrated Encrochat, which was used like a criminal WhatsApp.
But people used aliases, known as handles, meaning detectives had to trawl through messages and attribute them to criminals across the UK.
Detectives from the serious organised crime group identified nine men from Wigan who were conspiring to flood the North with illicit drugs and weapons.
Dean Smallwood, who used the alias “rubberstem” and later “gullarm”, and Jamie Kenny, known as “roadtender” and then “steadyturtle”, had leading roles in the gang.
The others acted as their “yes men”, couriering drugs and money upon request. They were Sam Causer (“rubberstem”), Nathan Hart (“roadtender”), Ian Ormshaw (“icypirate” and “hippoyoghurt”), Lee Standen (“alezebra”), Nathan Cooke (“usefulstone”) and Daryl Golding (“manleyocean”).
Police saw messages detailing their entire operation, the lengths they went to conceal their criminal funds, and their methods of breaking down the drugs to maximise profits.
From March to June 2020, police discovered the gang were laundering more than £200,000 cash, which was fuelling further criminality and funding their lavish lifestyles.
Officers executed 18 warrants simultaneously on March 16, 2021 at properties across Wigan linked to the gang.
They seized mobile phones, luxury items, designer clothes and jewellery, snap bags of cocaine and cannabis, body armour and crypto currency wallets.
Gang members were arrested and eight men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs and conspiracy to possess criminal property.
Dean Smallwood, 43, of Landgate Farm, Bamfurlong, was jailed for 12 years eight months; Jamie Kenny, 33, of Ashwood Avenue, Abram, for 11 years two months; Leon Kenny, 32, of Warrington Road, Abram, for eight years; Sam Causer, 33, of Egerton Street, Abram, for six years four months; Nathan Hart, 33, of Warrington Road, Abram, for six years six months; Ian Ormshaw, 44, of Mains Avenue, Bamfurlong, for five years seven months; Nathan Cooke, 32, of France Street, Hindley, for six years four months; and Daryl Golding, 38, of Brookland Avenue, Hindley, for five years six months.
Det Ch Insp Claire McGuire said: “These men were making really vast profits and living lavish lifestyles at the expense of vulnerable people across the North West.
“Our serious and organised crime team conducted a long and complex investigation into their activities and over a two-year period we were able to seize drugs worth millions of pounds, profits from which would have fuelled further criminality and exploitation had we not intercepted.
“These men were, to a degree, forensically aware and made many attempts to evade police detection. They reminded each other to wear gloves when handling the money, and the texts evidenced they knew some of them may be on the police’s radar. However, they believed these encrypted devices rendered them untouchable. Ironically, the steps they took to conceal their operation gave us a goldmine of evidence which secured their convictions.”