FOUR criminals, including one from Kendal, have been jailed for their roles in a cocaine and heroin supply plot.
Carlisle Crown Court heard how drug dealers preyed on addicts in the South Cumbria town during March, establishing an illegal business base at the home of one.
A hub phone was used to control the shipment of the class A substances into Kendal. Group text messages were then sent from the handset to known users, advertising the fact that illicit substances were available for sale.
Four men were sentenced at the crown court today (TUES) – each having admitted conspiring to supply heroin and cocaine during a 17-day period.
They included 31-year-old Kendal man Jonathan Calvert. He sold drugs near his Stricklandgate home in the town centre, and allowed that address to be used by Merseyside-based crooks higher up the criminal chain of command.
They were Stephen Welsh, 31, of Ackers Hall Avenue, Liverpool – described as the phone operator and “branch manager” of the organised gang; along with dealers James Inglesby, 29 of Kirkby, Liverpool; and homeless Sean Till, 23.
In total, around £4,000 worth of drugs were seized by Cumbria police who used forensic and telephone evidence to pick apart the plot.
Calvert was jailed for 32 months, Welsh received five years, three months, and Inglesby and Till were handed 40-month sentences.
Judge Tony Lancaster told the gang members: “Bringing drugs into Cumbria from Liverpool is a growing problem area of criminal activity which, in spite of police successes and prosecutions, still continues to flourish.”
A spokesperson for the South Cumbria Drugs Unit said: “These four criminals each played a different role in the supply of drugs from Merseyside to Cumbria.
“Welsh was a significant figure in this conspiracy and brought Till and Inglesby to Cumbria with Class A drugs. He would also alert drug users to the availability of drugs and when drugs were sold out, would return to Kendal to collect his co-conspirators.
“Till and Inglesby were brought to Kendal to sell Class A drugs on our streets, and Calvert allowed his house to be used as a base for the business to work from, as well as carrying out the hands-on supply of drugs on occasion.
“Despite their part in the conspiracy differing, they all played a significant role in the transport of these dangerous substances into Cumbria on an almost daily basis.
“It took a great deal of hard work and time to ensure that these four ended up in front of the courts, but through some carefully planned and professionally executed interventions, we succeeded in catching the gang in the act, meaning they faced overwhelming evidence against them.”
Chief Inspector Matt Pearman added: “The arrests of these individuals formed part of Operation Quadrant, which was a proactive operation targeting organised criminality across South Cumbria.
“A significant focus of this operation was the supply of controlled drugs, particularly by organised criminals from cities elsewhere in north west England, who come to supply drugs on the streets of Cumbria.
“We have a specialist team of officers dedicated to tackling the supply of drugs in South Cumbria, and these convictions reflect the success that this team has had in helping to keep the public of Cumbria safe from organised criminals. Cumbria Constabulary will actively seek and pursue those who peddle these drugs in our communities.”