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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Cumbria Police smash drug crime ring

AN organised crime group, which intended to flood Cumbria with Class A drugs, has been smashed by police.

After an investigation by officers from Cumbria Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit, members of the drug ring were sentenced to a total of over 73 years.

At Carlisle Crown Court in February 2014, HHJ Batty QC sentenced those involved as follows:

· Gary Rickerby, 41, of Washington Street, Workington, received 14 years imprisonment for conspiracy to supply Class A and B controlled drugs.

· George Kelly, also known as Blacklock and the brother of Gary Rickerby, 42, of Shotley Gardens, Gateshead, received 13 years and six months imprisonment for conspiracy to supply Class A and B controlled drugs.

· Lee Iceton, 32, of Calder Drive, Workington, received 10 years imprisonment for conspiracy to supply Class A and B controlled drugs.

· Kevin Hewson, 30, of Cheviot Gardens, Gateshead, received 8 years imprisonment for conspiracy to supply Class A and B controlled drugs.

· Daniel Cregg, 37, of Park Lane, Oswaldtwistle, Nr Accrington, received 6 years imprisonment for conspiracy to supply Class A controlled drugs

· Ashley Rickerby, who is the son of Gary Rickerby, aged 23 years of Casson Road, Workington, received 5 years imprisonment for conspiracy to supply Class A and B controlled drugs.

· Scott Daglish, 52, of Lonsdale Place, Flimby, received 4 years and 8 months imprisonment for conspiracy to supply Class A controlled drugs and possession of a Class B controlled drug.

· David Bragg, 31, of Seven Acres, Parton, received 4 years imprisonment for conspiracy to supply Class A and B controlled drugs.

· Gregor MacDonald, the father of Kelly MacDonald, 45, of Grasmere Road, Workington, received 18 months imprisonment for encouraging / assisting in the commission of an offence believing one or more will be committed.

· Kelly MacDonald, the partner of Ashley Rickerby, 21, of Casson Road, Workington, received 2 years imprisonment, which was suspended, for encouraging / assisting in the commission of an offence believing one or more will be committed.

· Gregg Crawford, 44, of Oxford Road, Huyton. Liverpool, received 9 months imprisonment, which was suspended, for permitting the production of drugs and concealing criminal property.

Two defendants, James Moore and Dale Cooke elected to go to trial, which concluded on Friday 15 August 2014 at Carlisle Crown Court meaning the full details could only be released today.

Moore, 33, of Casson Road, Workington was found guilty and received 4 years for assisting in the supply of Class A or B controlled drugs.

The jury failed to reach a verdict with regards to Dale Cooke, 32, from Reins Road, Brighouse, West Yorkshire, for conspiring to supply Class A controlled drugs. The Crown Prosecution Service have decided not to seek a further retrial of Cooke.

The investigation, codenamed Operation Arrow, started in May 2013 and involved officers from Cumbria and Northumbria’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit.

The activities of this organised crime gang were under close surveillance by officers for a number of months, during which a number of significant seizures were made of money and drugs.

This led to a coordinated arrest operation which took place on July 22 2013, with over forty officers being involved.

During the investigation cocaine, amphetamine and mephedrone with a street value of over £550,000 was intercepted by the Police as it was trafficked from the North West and North East of the UK into West Cumbria. Police also seized over 60 kilos of benzocaine, which is the primary bulking agent for cocaine in the UK. Given the amount of benzocaine seized, if mixed with high purity cocaine it had the potential yield of between £1.3 and £1.7 million pounds worth of cocaine.

Given the volume of evidence against eleven of the defendants, they pleaded guilty and were sentence over a number of days, which commenced at Carlisle Crown Court on Tuesday 25 February 2014. The final defendant has now been found guilty and sentenced today.

Speaking after the sentencing, the senior investigating officer, temporary detective superintendent Rob O’Connor said: “This was a concerted effort by those involved to traffic significant amounts of cocaine, amphetamine and mephedrone onto the streets of West Cumbria.

“The recovery of over half a million pounds worth of drugs during last summer demonstrates the determination of Cumbria Constabulary to ensure that the people who pose the greatest risk to our communities will be targeted. We will work tirelessly to take them off the streets and put them before the courts.

“Once again the courts have handed down lengthy sentences to those involved, in particular to those who sit at the top and were the main organisers.

“Gary Rickerby was still on license having been released from a previous sentence for drugs offences, yet driven by pure greed he orchestrated the supply of drugs into West Cumbria form his associates in Lancashire, and via his brother in the North East. He will now serve a lengthy custodial sentence, and will have plenty of time in prison to reflect on his actions.

“Our investigations will continue using legislation from the Proceeds of Crime Act, as I am determined to strip the assets from those involved to ensure that they do not benefit at all from crime.

“This should be seen as a stark warning to others that if you are involved in serious criminality, we will pursue you and put you in front of the courts to ensure our communities remain a safe place to live.”

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