More than 55-years behind bars for county lines drug gang
An additional six members of an organised crime group operating in Grimsby have been jailed today (Friday, 28 August) for a combined total of 20-years following a lengthy and complex investigation into county lines drug supply and dealing (pictured below).
Five other members were sentenced in June this year (pictured below), totalling 36-years and seven months in prison altogether, which now for all 11 amounts to 56-years and seven months behind bars for the criminal group, with a twelfth member to be sentenced at a later date.
The ringleaders behind the drugs operation were based in Merseyside and Cheshire, transporting £1.38 million of heroin and crack cocaine into Grimsby over an 18-month period, and then using local people as well as some from outside the Force area to sell the drugs.
Detective Sergeant Darren Gray said: “This investigation has been incredibly complex and multi –faceted, and has involved working closely with both Merseyside and Cheshire Police, as well as the Regional Organised Crime Unit and the National Crime Agency, to thoroughly and comprehensively collate and gather evidence to build a strong case to present before the courts.
“Enquiries began towards the latter end of 2017, when an arrest was made for an unrelated burglary in the Merseyside area and the offender’s mobile phone was seized and digitally and forensically examined, with messages indicating he was involved in the supply of class A drugs.
“From this time, both overt and covert action has taken place with extensive enquiries carried out as part of the investigation, which ultimately led to the simultaneous execution of three warrants on Thursday, 21 March last year in Grimsby, Liverpool and Warrington, which resulted in the arrests of the ringleaders.”
Arrested in Liverpool, Leslie Aytoun, 49, of Lochinvar Street, ran the operation with the ‘graft’ drug phone taking calls from drug users in Grimsby and directing them where to go to pick up heroin or crack cocaine.
Aytoun was charged with two counts of Conspiracy to supply Class A controlled drugs – one for heroin and one for crack cocaine – between September 2017 and March 2019. She pleaded guilty at an earlier court hearing and has been sentenced today to eleven years in prison.
Also arrested and charged with the same offences were Scott Hendry, 27, of Longshaw Street, who controlled the local, and non-local, drug runners in Grimsby and Andres Vassou, 30, of Queens Drive, Stoneycroft, who was the transportation to resupply the drugs, travelling between Liverpool and Grimsby by car and train.
Hendry was sentenced to 14-years in prison and Vassou was sentenced to eight years in prison in June.
Further arrests were made over the coming months, and through extensive investigations and enquiries, information from the public and realms of data examined and interpreted, a clear picture was built up as to who else was involved and the identity of a number of other individuals uncovered.
Top row, left to right – Scott Hendry, Andres Vassou
Bottom row, left to right – Jamie Shaw, Reece Navarro, Lee Healey
Further warrants were carried out and more arrests were made, with five people from our Force area and five from the Cheshire and Merseyside areas detained and later charged with drugs offences.
Pictured top right:
Top row, left to right – Jordan West, Leslie Aytoun, Craig Owen
Bottom row, left to right – Lisa Michaelson, Trevor Willoughby, Dean Hall
Across the Humberside Force area, Trevor Willoughby, 38, and Lisa Michaelson, 35, both of Wintringham Road, Grimsby, pleaded guilty at an earlier court hearing to permitting their premise to be used for the purpose of class A drug supply. They were both sentenced today to 14-months each in prison.
Entering a guilty plea to conspiracy to supply class A drugs between September 2017 and March 2019, and also threatening unlawful violence towards another in August 2019 at an earlier court hearing, Craig Owen, 32 of Overton Court, Barton, was sentenced today to three-years and nine-months behind bars.
From Hull, Jordan West, 27, of Meltonby Avenue and Korban Price, 20, of NFA, both also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs between September 2017 and March 2019. West was sentenced today to two-years and three months in prison. Sentencing for Price has been deferred to a later date.
From the Cheshire force area, Dean Hall, 25, of Cotton Lane, Runcorn, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs between September 2017 and March 2019, and was sentenced today to eight-months in prison.
Also from the Cheshire force area, Jamie Shaw, also known as Jamie Blythe, 23, of Pine Road, Runcorn, along with two men from the Merseyside force area, Lee Healey, also known as Lee Blackburn, 33, of Centenary Close, Liverpool and Reece Navarro, 21, of Hillside Road, Liverpool, were all charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs between September 2017 and March 2019.
All three were sentenced alongside Hendry and Vassou in June. Healey to nine years, Navarro to two-years and eight months and Shaw to two-years and 11-months in prison.
DS Gray added: “We know the effect that drugs and the associated crime and antisocial behaviour that comes with it has on our communities, and it brings misery to residents in the areas these groups think they can set up business, more often than not exploiting children and vulnerable people in order to line their own pockets.
“We will not tolerate any type of organised crime and I hope the final result today sends out a very clear message to anyone who is involved in the supply of drugs and dealing, or anyone who is thinking about becoming involved, that we will not stop in our efforts to dismantle your groups and disrupt your criminality.
“There has been an incredibly hard-working team who have been part of this investigation, and I want to thank them for their commitment and dedication in bringing these offenders to justice and behind bars where they belong.
“I would also always encourage the public to please, continue telling us about any type of drug-related crime or concerns in your area, or to make contact with Crimestoppers completely anonymously on 0800 555111.
“While you might not see the results straight away, as with this case, you can feel rest assured that the information you provide us is vital in piecing together successful operations, and with your help, we can collate the intelligence we need to continue to target those behind the crimes and take action against them to really make a difference.”