1. ITV Report

Thirteen sentenced over multi-million pound North West drugs plot

Paul McDonald, Brian Harrison, Vincent Cooke and James Swarez were all sentenced today Photo: Merseyside Police

Twelve men and a woman have been sentenced to a total of 152 years for a multi-million pound drugs conspiracy at Liverpool Crown Court today.

The sentencing follows an eight-month operation by officers from Titan, the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, into the supply of Class A drugs from Merseyside to Scotland, South Wales, Lancashire and Cheshire.

In total, officers from Titan seized 9.25 kg of heroin, 8.25 kg of cocaine, 12 kg of amphetamine, 11,370 class C tablets (benzylpiperazine) with a collective wholesale value of £1million as well as £37,000 cash.

In total, 13 people were sentenced for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs:

John Cooke, 32, was sentenced to 17 years as was 44-year-old James Swarez. John Wildman, aged 40 was given nine years and four months.

Paul McDonald, 44, of Huyton was given 15 years Brian Harrison, six years and eight months and David Law from West Derby was sentenced to 10 years and eight months.

Also sentenced were Jonathon Earley, was sentenced to six years, David Jolly, aged 44, of Chorley 12 years, James Beck from Lostock Hall, Preston was jailed for 13 years and Jonathon Cromwell from Cardiff was given 12 years.

Edward McCreadie, aged 54, was sentenced to 12 years and eight months, Roseanne McCreadie from Glasgow was jailed for nine years and Gordon Smith, 49, of Glasgow was sentenced 12 years

The methods used to distribute the drugs showed a degree of sophistication. The usual routine for the distribution tended to be Cooke and Swarez would receive high purity drugs from suppliers, one of which was Paul McDonald and this would then be trafficked to Glasgow, Cardiff, Preston and Ellesmere Port via the couriers of the group.

Forensic examination of the recovered drugs indicates that mixing of the drugs took place prior to distribution and while under the control of the OCG. Following the deliveries of drugs, cash would be collected and subsequently delivered to Cooke, Swarez or McDonald, who along with Harrison were at the top of the hierarchy.

On Friday, December 2, 2011, Cooke, Swarez, Wildman, McDonald and Harrison were arrested in a coordinated planned operation. Searches took place at their homes during which a number of mobile phones were recovered. The searches of the houses belonging to Cooke and McDonald showed obvious signs of significant wealth with both living an affluent lifestyle.

The five were all charged the following day with conspiracy to supply cocaine and diamorphine.

Law was arrested on September 1, 2011 in Crosby. The boot of his Volvo car was searched and three kgs of cocaine recovered. He pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply at Liverpool Crown Court on September 20, 2011 and for that offence was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in jail. He later also admitted conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Jolly was arrested on September 21, 2011 by uniformed Merseyside Police officers on the M62 towards Liverpool just before junction seven at Rainhill. His Mercedez van was searched by officers and two kgs of heroin, 11,370 tablets containing various class ‘C’ controlled drugs and £2500 cash were recovered. A baseball bat was also found inside the van. Jolly was arrested for possession of controlled drugs with intent to supply, money laundering and possession of an offensive weapon. He was charged on December 8, 2011 with the drugs conspiracy.

On December 6, 2011, a warrant was executed at Beck's house on Ward Street, Preston. He was not at home at the time and a few hours later handed himself in to police in Lancashire. He denied any involvement with drugs supply and offered innocent explanations for all the observations at his home address and elsewhere with the other conspirators. He was charged with the drugs conspiracy on December 7, 2011.

On December 7, 2011, search warrants were also executed at the homes of Roseanne McCreadie and Edward McCreadie who were both arrested. Mobile phones were recovered at their houses and a piece of paper listing amounts of money allegedly owed by drug dealers was found in a vehicle at Menteith Drive. The McCreadies, Jolly and Law were all subsequently charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs on December 8, 2011.

Cromwell and Earley were both arrested at HMP Cardiff on December 12, 2011 on suspicion of conspiracy to supply controlled drugs. They were both were charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs that same day.

On December 20, 2011 Gordon Smith was arrested at Copy Lane Police Station and was charged on January 12, 2012 with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Cooke, Swarez, Wildman, McDonald, Harrison, Jolly, Law, Edward McCreadie, Cromwell and Earley all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply controlled drugs on Monday, March 12, 2012. Beck, Roseanne McCreadie and Smith all pleaded not guilty and were found guilty of conspiracy to supply controlled drugs at a subsequent trial.

Detective Superintendent Jason Hudson from Titan said: "Today's sentences reflect the severity of the scourge of drugs on our streets.

"We launched a lengthy investigation into this organised crime unit and obtained evidence that ensured some major players in the drugs trade have been taken out of action for a considerable amount of time.

"While some of the gang were used as couriers, others such as Cooke, Swarez, McDonald and Harrison were at the top of the hierarchy of this group and their lifestyles show they have made huge amounts of money through their criminal activities. The methods used to distribute the drugs show a level of sophistication

"They are now facing a considerable amount of time behind bars and will be stripped of all their ill-gotten gains sending a strong message to anyone involved in organised crime, or thinking of getting involved, that no-one is untouchable and you will be found and brought to justice.

"Titan will continue to target all those involved in organised crime and take robust action against them to protect our communities across the North West."

Nine others were also sentenced Credit: ITV Granada