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White van drugs trafficking gang jailed for 31 years

Top L-R: Alan Oliver, Alistar Welding, Daljeet Juttla, David Whalley, Jamie Hughes. Bottom L-R: John Ellis, Kevin Smith, Matthew Morgan, Michael Longworth and Richard Hunt

[T]en members of a criminal group which smuggled drugs and money the length of the UK were yesterday imprisoned for a total of 31 years at Liverpool Crown Court following a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.

The group was led by Jamie Hughes, 37, of Warrington, and operated out of the North West of England. Members delivered bulk loads of drugs to clients in locations from Scotland to London in vans with hidden compartments.

Hughes was imprisoned for five years and four months after pleading guilty to his role in the conspiracy.

He claimed to be a car dealer but was exchanging vehicles as part payment for drugs such as cannabis, amphetamines and ketamine.

Hughes, who kept a stun gun disguised as an iPhone, installed a CCTV system to monitor his driveway. It provided NCA officers with key evidence against his network as footage showed various members of the conspiracy exchanging packages or leaving Hughes’s address with parcels.

Michael Longworth, 38, of Halsall, Lancashire, supplied members of Hughes’s network with amphetamine sulphate. He was among those captured on the ringleader’s cameras and was sentenced to six years in prison after going to trial.

In addition to cash seizures and damning emails, evidence used against the group included traces of ketamine found in the floor concealment of a white Peugeot Partner van and a hidden compartment in the rear of a white Vauxhall Vivaro van.

Both concealments were skilfully constructed and operated by switches in the cabs.

Inside van shelves
Smith’s van concealment

David Whalley, 37, of St Helens, sentenced to three years and four months after a guilty plea, provided the base for the group’s couriers at his transport yard, which was also a home for the adapted vans he supplied to the group.

NCA officers exposed the group in an investigation that ran from October 2014 to January 2016.

Officers from the Metropolitan, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Merseyside police gave important support.

Cheshire police stopped Kevin Smith, 29, from Liverpool, on the motorway on the NCA’s behalf and found £135,000 cash in his car. Yesterday Smith, who was a courier for the group, received four years and six months in prison.

The Met stopped Daljeet Singh Juttla, 42, of Ruislip, London, with £90,000 of drugs money Richard Hunt had couriered down to the city on Hughes’s behalf. Juttla received 20 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and 200 hours unpaid work for money laundering.

Cash next to Juttla bag

Hunt, 35, a close associate of Hughes’s from Liverpool, was an occasional courier and chased drug debts. He received two years and four months.

Alistair Welding, 28, of St Helens and Hughes’s brother-in-law, and associate Matthew Morgan, 41, of Frodsham, brokered drugs deals for the group and pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. They received five years and four months and five years and three months in jail respectively.

Alan Oliver, 37, from Widnes, received a three-year community order for his part as a courier, while John Ellis, 60, of Liverpool, who supplied cash to Juttla, was given a rehabilitation order.

Jane Lloyd, branch commander at the NCA, said: “Established trafficking routes like these present a complex and troubling threat to the UK.

“With well worked-out logistics a criminal group can turn its hand to anything from gun running or drug smuggling, expanding their own operations or hiring out their services to others.

“NCA officers are alert to the tactics criminals use to shift commodities and hide their activity and are equipped with the skills and tools needed to bring them to justice.”

Jamie Hughes, dob 13 March 1980, Olympia Place, Great Sankey, Warrington

Sentenced to 5 years and 4 months’ imprisonment

2x conspiracy to convert criminal property,
1x possession of a disguised firearm (stun gun disguised as iPhone)
1x offer to supply cannabis
Alistair Welding, dob 15 September 1989, Clock Face Road, Clock Face, St Helens

Sentenced to five years and four months’ imprisonment

2x conspiracy to convert criminal property
2x supply amphetamine (Scotland)
1x supply cannabis (Scotland)
1x offer to supply cannabis
1x supply ketamine
1x supply mcat
Richard Hunt, dob 26 August 1982, Cuckoo Way, Liverpool

Sentenced to two years and four months’ imprisonment

1x conspiracy to convert criminal property
1x money laundering
David Whalley, 6 March 1980, Francis St, St Helens

Sentenced to three years and four months imprisonment

2x conspiracy to convert criminal property
Kevin Smith, 31 March 1988, Palmerston Road, Garston, Liverpool

Sentenced to four years and six months’ imprisonment

2x conspiracy to convert criminal property
1 x money laundering
1x possession of cannabis with intent to supply
1x possession of cocaine with intent to supply
Daljeet Singh Juttla, 6 January 1975, Priors Gardens, Ruislip

Sentenced to 20 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and 200 hours unpaid work

Money laundering x 1
Matthew Morgan, 11 August 1976, Main Street, Frodsham

Sentenced to five years and three months’ imprisonment

2x supply amphetamine (Scotland)
1x supply cannabis (Scotland)
1x supply mcat
1x supply cannabis
Michael Longworth, 6 May 1979, Plex Lane, Halsall, Lancashire

Sentenced to six years’ imprisonment

1x Supply amphetamine (Scotland)
Alan Oliver, 20 May 1980, Lune Way, Widnes

Sentenced to a three-year community order

1x money laundering
John Ellis, 26 February 1957, Roosevelt Drive, Liverpool

Sentenced to a rehabilitation order

Money laundering x 1