BREAKING NEWS: Northamptonshire cocaine gang handed 147-year prison term after net closed on Â£4m operation
An organised crime gang of 20 men and one woman have been handedÂ a total of 147 years and seven months in prison for their roles in trafficking lethal cocaine into the county - with an estimated street value of Â£4 million.
Three gangs - headed by Liam Stray of Earls Barton, Paul Bush of Rushden and Raunds man Stuart Bailey - organised the purchase of large quantities of high-purity Class A drugs.
The criminal enterprise trafficked cocaine with a purity of up to 71 per cent, into Northamptonshire and the "import strength" cocaine would then be dangerously diluted down with other chemicals for onward sale.
Detectives from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) - supported by police in Northamptonshire, Luton and Manchester - discovered regular arrangements for the purchase of cocaine from Luton and Manchester, and spent weeks observing the gang members.
A sting in January 2015 uncovered a number of safe houses across Wellingborough where drugs were stored. More than £85,000 in cash was also recovered during the investigation, as well 125 grams of heroin.
In total, 32 courier runs by the Stray and Bush group in Luton were identified. It was estimated that this have been in excess of 9.5 kilos of high-purity cocaine.
A further three drugs exchanges were identified between Bailey and a Manchester gang at Rushden Golf Club in Chelveston, with an estimated exchange of 1.5 kilos of cocaine.
Rushden Golf Club would like it to be made clear they had no knowledge of or involvement in any illegal activities.
The leader of the Northamptonshire arm of the operation, Stuart Bailey, 33, of Grove Street in Raunds was handed a sentence of 10 years and eight months, though in mitigation he claimed to have turned his life around since police closed the net on his operation.
Sentencing the group, judge Michael Fowler, said: "Drugs kill people. They ruin lives - not just of those who take them, but the lives of their families - ruin lives of many children. All of you know that.
"Many know, as you’ve seen through your own lives, what drugs do to people and families.
"What makes your actions particularly stupid is the penalties are so great it makes no sense to risk it for the short-term benefit you get from money. It’s plain some of you are just bad."
EMSOU Detective Constable Ian Hollyoake, the lead officer in the case, said: “This has been an extensive investigation which started in 2014 and has concluded today with lengthy sentences.
“Stray, Bush and Bailey were running extensive operations in which they were collectively bringing considerable amounts of lethal drugs to the streets of Northamptonshire.
“Drugs are big business in the criminal world but, like any illicit activity, they come at a high price.
“Whether it’s human trafficking, turf wars between rival gangs, infighting within a single crew, or violence towards their relatives and friends, there are always casualties. And that can be before a single gram of an illegal substance has been taken.
“We are all too aware of the incredible damage drug addiction can have on an individual and the wider community.
“Those sentenced today played their parts in this cycle of harm and their jailing goes some way toward reducing the damage. It also means three substantial drug routes into Northamptonshire have now been blocked.”
The criminal gang were jailed as follows:
Liam Stray, aged 37, of Blackwell Close in Earls Barton: 12 years and eight months.
Paul Bush, aged 38, of Raglan Close in Rushden: 12 years.
Ben Monaghan, aged 35, of no fixed address: 10 years.
Charles Holland, aged 32, of St Andrews Crescent in Wellingborough: 10 years.
George Russell, aged 31, of Constable Drive in Wellingborough: four years.
Daniel Coxall-Carr, aged 25, of Newton Road in Little Irchester, Wellingborough: nine years.
Jamie McKinnon Phillips, aged 36 of Abbey Road in Wellingborough: six years and four months.
Helen Moore, aged 28, Arkwright Road in Irchester: five years and four months.
Nathan Inkley, aged 24, of Arkwright Road in Irchester: two years and two months.
Will Owens, aged 24, of Wing in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire: three years and eight months
John Parker, aged 50, of Hayway in Irthlingborough: six years.
Brian Kingsnorth, aged 33, of Leighton Road in Corby: 12 years.
Nathan Rennoldson, aged 24, of Bugby Drive in Irthlingborough: four years and eight months.
Armajit Singh Sembhi, aged 73, of Hargrave in Wellingborough: Six years.
Stuart Bailey, aged 33, of Grove Street in Raunds: 10 years and eight months.
Callum Mains, aged 31 of Grove Street in Raunds: Four years and four months.
Tony Bolton, aged 42 of Rushden: Nine months, suspended for two years.
Tauyyub Ulshan, aged 31, of Royal Avenue in Bury: 10 years and eight months
Bradley Nathan Hall, aged 31 Raymond Avenue in Bury: Five years and eight months.
Michael James Campbell, aged 28, of Ivy Road in Bury: Six years.
Paul Greenwood, aged 28, of Cheshum Road South in Bury: Five years and eight months.