A MAJOR £1M drugs network crossing international boundaries was run from the Whin-ney Hill caravan park.
Police have finally smashed the "sophisticated" gang and now 12 men – including six from Hyndburn – are waiting to be sentenced for their part in the supply of heroin and cocaine.
Eleven of the defendants have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply the drugs and Damien O’Connor, 43, who is living in Belgium, was found guilty of the offence at Liverpool Crown Court.
Lancashire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) launched Operation Medlar to target the distribution of Class A drugs around the North West.
The court heard that planning of the operation was carried out from the travellers’ camp between Huncoat and Altham, where regular meetings were held.
The gang was headed by Elias Smith, 29, and John Varey, 28, both living on the site, and Edward Smith, 22, of West Crescent, Accrington.
The trio controlled and directed the activities of Daniel Cregg, 30, of Catlow Hall Street, Oswaldtwistle, Lee Finglas, 25, of Sharples Street, Accrington, and Andrew Dixon, 23, of Roe Greave Road, Oswaldtwistle.
Cregg ran the lower tier of the gang, receiving his instructions from above and directing Finglas and Dixon.
Finglas "ran" for Cregg, delivering drugs to several lower level dealers, while Dixon collected the money.
Between July 2006 and February 2007, the group imported a total of 10kg of heroin and 10kg of cocaine, with a street value in excess of £1M, from the continent.
The drugs were brought by lorry to Lancashire and Merseyside where delivery teams sold them on.
The police operation spanned three countries, with investigations taking place in England, Belgium and the Neth-erlands.
It culminated in February last year when more than 200 police, including dog handlers and firearms officers, swooped on 22 addresses in Hyndburn, Merseyside and Belgium in a series of co-ordinated early-morning raids.
Detective Superintendent Dave Brian, head of the county’s SOCU team, said: "This was a sophisticated international gang, one of the biggest outside London. We caught everyone from the bosses to the courier and the whole lot in between.
"This case shows how Lancashire Constabulary is making the county a difficult place for organised criminals to operate in and I would hope it sends a strong message to those who commit serious and organised crime – you will be caught and punished."
Gregor McGill, head of Serious and Organised Crime at the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office, added: "This excellent result demonstrates just what can be achieved when police, investigators and prosecutors work closely together in the fight against organised crime."
Sentencing will take place next month.