Wigan drugs ring jailed after undercover bust
Drug dealers caught out by an undercover police investigation in Wigan have been handed prison sentences totalling nearly seven years.
And further substantial jail terms are expected later as those caught out as a result of Operation Land are dealt with by the criminal justice system.
Nine arrests were made last December after a covert inquiry by Greater Manchester Police, which saw a detective infilitrate a heroin and cocaine network running between Wigan and Liverpool.
Audio and video recordings of various drugs transactions were recorded by the undercover officer, previous court hearings have been told, before police conducted a series of dawn raids in the two locations.
These included Stephen Smith, 52, and Kim O’Brien, 46, both formerly of Chelsea Court, Liverpool, who each later admitted charges of conspiracy to supply class A drugs on a limited basis during 2017.
Smith was jailed for four-and-a-half years by Judge Richard Gioserano and O’Brien was given a 27-month term at the same hearing.
Fiona Clancy, prosecuting, said that Smith was observed dealing in hard drugs on at least seven occasions, before his eventual arrest.
O’Brien was said to have been involved in drug dealing for only around two weeks, the court heard.
Her main role had been driving around some of her fellow dealers between different locations. But she did accept being present when one particular deal was carried out.
Smith and O’Brien both insisted that they had been “co-erced” into dealing drugs over the period and threats had been issued to secure their co-operation.
And Judge Gioserano, after hearing evidence from the pair before a sentencing hearing, said he was prepared to accept their explanations.
The judge also ruled that prosecution claims that Smith had played a more substantial role in the operation were not admissible.
Five others from Wigan, who have each admitted to the same conspiracy charges, are set to appear in court later this month, when their roles in the drugs ring will be assessed.
A 46-year-old Wigan woman, who was said to have played a more minor role in the overall drugs supply chain, was given a community sentence at the same court in May.