THREE Hyndburn men who ran a major £2M drugs network crossing international boundaries from the Whinney Hill caravan park have been sentenced to a total of 22 years in prison.
Daniel Cregg, 30, of Catlow Hall Street, Oswaldtwistle; Andrew Dixon, 24, of Roegreave Road, Oswaldtwistle; Lee Finglas, 26, of Sharples Street, Accrington; and two other men from Liverpool formed a gang that imported a massive 10kg of heroin and 30kg of cocaine into the region.
The sentencing at Liverpool Crown Court came after Lanca-shire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the Revenue and Customs Prosec-utions Office launched Operation Medlar to target the distribution of Class A drugs around the North West.
Cregg was sentenced to nine years, Dixon was jailed for eight years and Finglas was sentenced to five years after they all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Cregg, who giggled and laughed throughout the hearing, breathed out heavily and looked stunned after he heard he will serve 10 years in total including a year for the unlawful wounding of a man in April 2006.
The court heard that planning of the operation was carried out from the travellers’ camp between Huncoat and Altham, where regular meetings were held.
Cregg is thought to have run 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 dealers, while Dixon, Cregg’s "right hand man", collected the money.
Between July 2006 and February 2007, the group imported a total of 10kg of heroin and 30kg of cocaine with a street value in excess of £2M from the continent.
The drugs were brought by lorry to Lancashire and Mersey-side where delivery teams sold them on.
The police operation spanned three countries with investigations taking place in England, Belgium and the Netherlands.
It culminated in February last year when more than 200 police, including dog handlers and fire-arms officers, swooped on 22 addr-esses in Hyndburn, Merseyside and Belgium in a series of co-ordinated raids.
Twelve suspects were arrested and later charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin.
Lancashire Constabulary's Assistant Chief Constable, Andy Cooke, said: "I am delighted with this result which highlights the first-class co-operation between the various agencies. It is a testament to all involved.
"This shows how Lancashire Constabulary is committed to making Lancashire a difficult place for organised criminals to operate and we will continue to work with other agencies to bring these people to justice."
Bill Hughes, director of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, said: "We were pleased to be able to work alongside Lancashire Constabulary, through its work in this county and overseas, to dismantle this organised criminal enterprise responsible for distributing drugs on to the streets of Lancashire and Merseyside."
Thomas Casey, 44, from Liver-pool was sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to possessing 10kg of heroin with intent to supply.
Colin Roberts, 47, also from Liverpool, was given a two-year sentence after pleading guilty to an alternative charge of money laundering, to the value of £150,000, but he was released after the hearing because he had already served 448 days on remand.
Six other men will be sentenced for their roles in the plot in September.