Drug gang who used Forest of Dean butcher’s shop to store drugs jailed for more than 50 years

Eight men have been sentenced to more than 50 years in prison for their roles in the drug supply chain. Credit: Gloucestershire Police

A drug gang that operated out of a butcher's shop and transported hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of drugs in and out of Gloucestershire has been jailed.

Police uncovered the "sophisticated" operation inside a village butcher's shop, in Sedbury, near Chepstow.

The shop was being used as a front for storing drugs being brought down to the county from the West Midlands.

Eight men, from the Forest of Dean and the West Midlands, formed two organised crime groups and were dealing in the area.

They were sentenced to a total of 50 years and eight months in prison at Gloucester Crown Court on Friday 20 October.

Detective Inspector Matt Phillips said their convictions "send a strong message to anyone dealing drugs that Gloucestershire Constabulary takes this problem incredibly seriously."

Drugs were being sent from the West Midlands to the Forest of Dean. Credit: Gloucestershire Police

The force's investigation began after residents in Sedbury raised concerns to Neighbourhood Policing Officers about possible drug dealing taking place in the town.

The operation to supply drugs ran for nearly two years, between February 2020 and September 2021.

Police were able to use automatic number plate recognition and phone technology to track the movements of the gang members, and see where meetings had taken place.

Officers found drugs — including cocaine, amphetamine and ecstasy — drug paraphernalia and cash during searches of the gang members' homes.

"If anybody is concerned about drug dealing in their community, or that their loved ones might be involved in drug dealing, they can contact the police and we will always follow up that information and do all we can to ensure justice is served," Det Insp Matt Philips said.

"This sentence is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all the officers involved in this case, from the initial intelligence gained by our Neighbourhood Policing Team from the community to the thorough and meticulous investigation by our detectives and analysts.

"These men thought they were untouchable by the police, but this investigation has shown that nobody is above the law," he added.

All eight men pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to supply cocaine at a previous hearing.

The Forest of Dean contingent was headed up by Lawrence (L) while the West Midlands group was headed up by Anslow (R). Credit: Gloucestershire Police

The ring leaders of the gang, Richard Lawrence, 34 from Llandogo and Brett Anslow, 39 from Dudley, were both jailed for nine years each.

Lawrence had also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply amphetamines.

Michael Chand, 55 from Birmingham, Jason Grindle, 36 from Coleford and Trevor Cook, 48 from Wednesbury were all given six years each in jail.

Paul Johnson, 35 from Cinderford, and Shane Tyrell, 48 from Lydney were both sentenced to five years and seven months each in prison.

Johnson had also pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis with the intent to supply, while Tyell had also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply amphetamines.

Alan Ballinger, 28 from Coleford, was sentenced to 42 months in prison.

Christine Hart, Crown Advocate for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) South West said: "This was a sophisticated drug ring that involved two groups of dealers operating a large distribution network.

"Drug-related crime is corrosive - it damages not only those involved in buying and selling and their families but the communities in which they live," she added.

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