Yesterday, Thursday 3rd March 2011, the last two members of an organised drug dealing gang were sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court to a total of 21 years in prison.
This concludes a complex conspiracy investigation to supply Class A drugs which involved Gwent Police, Wiltshire Police and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).
Anthony Doherty, 43, of Bristol was sentenced to 16 years in prison and John Michael Lynch, 60, of Bromley, London was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
The other members of the gang had been sentenced at earlier hearings having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs:
- Paul Richards, 41, of Mountain Ash received 12 years in prison
- Sean Joseph Mortell, 32, of Bristol received 11 years in prison
- Mathew Christopher Pullin, 32, of Bristol received 5 years in prison
- Ronald Lewis Davies, 64, of Mountain Ash received 4 years in prison
The investigation came about following the seizure of 3.58 kilos of cocaine on 1st Sept 2009 and the arrest of Richards and Davies.
They were stopped having just left the Second Severn Crossing toll booths by two Gwent Roads Policing officers. During a search of their vehicle the drugs, which were intended for distribution across South Wales, were discovered.
When Richards was sentenced he became the first person in Wales to be made the subject of a serious crime prevention order (SCPO). These orders are intended for use against those involved in serious crime and the purpose of their terms is to protect the public by preventing, restricting or disrupting involvement in serious crime.
The investigation also involved confiscating £53,000 in cash which was discovered when Lynch’s vehicle was stopped on the M4 by officers from Wiltshire Police. This money has now been confiscated and will be used to help fund policing operations which will target other drug dealers.
The evidence gathered during this investigation included some covert operations and detailed mobile phone work. The gang were arrested and charged apart from Doherty who initially fled to Spain but was subsequently arrested on his return 12 months later on 17th June 2010.
Detective Inspector Paul Evans who heads up the Gwent Police Organised Crime Unit and led the investigation, said: "This was a major commercial enterprise with members of the organised gang making substantial profits.
The investigation which saw us working closely with Wiltshire Police and SOCA has been a complex one but one that has proved to be very successful following the completion of the sentencing yesterday.
The sentences, particularly for Anthony Doherty, sends a clear message to those who are thinking of leading a criminal lifestyle, Gwent police and CPS will do all they can to bring offenders to justice.
With all the offenders receiving significant custodial sentences this again demonstrates that drug dealing in Gwent will not be tolerated and that Gwent Police and our partner agencies will do all they can to reduce the misery and suffering that these offences and criminals bring to our community."
Temporary Detective Inspector Tony Hubbard from Wiltshire Police’s Specialist Crime Directorate who led the Wiltshire side of the investigation said: "Wiltshire Police is fully committed to tackling organised crime. I hope that the lengthy custodial sentences imposed and the forfeiture of criminal assets in excess of £50,000 will send a clear message and deterrent to people involved in the supply and trafficking of controlled drugs.
The investigation demonstrates our close partnership working with Gwent Police, SOCA and other forces, to disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups. We are here to protect the public from the harm and suffering that these offences cause and the seizure of the criminal assets will be invested back into protecting our communities.”
Stacey Turner, District Crown Prosecutor for CPS Gwent, added: “Yesterday’s sentences mark the conclusion of a highly successful investigation and prosecution process that has taken a number of persistent drug dealers off the streets.
These two men were part of an organised gang involved in the supply of Class A drugs throughout the area. We know that drugs have an extremely corrosive effect on local communities, so the message must go out that those who engage in the supply of these substances will be pursued relentlessly by the prosecuting authorities.
We will continue to work closely alongside our colleagues in Gwent police to make sure that our local communities are protected from this type of criminal activity.”