Jail for Manchester drug dealers
Date published: 07 June 2012
A Manchester-based crime network involved in the wholesale supply and distribution of drugs has been smashed thanks to Greater Manchester Police.
Thanks to Operation Medusa, which was set up by police to expose the activities of this organised crime group, officers seized up to £380,000 worth of Class A and B drugs.
Today Thursday 7 June 2012 the main players of the network are starting jail sentences following a trial hearing at Liverpool Crown Court.
William Michael Skillen (born 04/10/1985), of Blueberry Avenue, Moston, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs and two counts of conspiracy to supply class B drugs and was jailed for eight years.
Mark Anderson (born 04/11/1985), of Tutbury Street, Ancoats pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs and conspiracy to supply class B drugs and was jailed for five and a half years.
Christopher Phythian (born 31/03/1984), of Longham Close, Beswick pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs and was jailed for three and a half years.
Lewis Thompson (born 12/11/1985) of Ordsall Lane, Salford pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs and conspiracy to supply class B drugs. He was jailed for five years.
Jason Bennett (born 19/04/1971), of Kilmington Drive, Cheetham Hill pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class B drugs. He is due to be sentenced 3 December 2012.
At the head of the network was Skillen, who controlled and directed the other members, overseeing and directing the collection and delivery of multi-kilo amounts of Class A and B drugs throughout the UK.
The others were trusted members of this crime group all involved in the wholesale distribution of the drugs.
On 18 January 2011, police seized a large block of white powder from two men at a house in Stockport. This was later forensically examined and revealed to be 1.016 kilos of cocaine with a purity of 60 percent and a street value of £169,000.
At this time, Skillen and Anderson were in Thailand having flown business class, but inquiries showed Skillen and Thompson, who remained in the UK, were controlling the supply of this block of cocaine.
On 12 April 2011, Thompson visited Bennett's home in Cheetham Hill and left carrying several bags which he put into the boot of his car. He was stopped and found in possession of 2.35 kilos of cannabis worth about £14,000 on the streets. Again, mobile inquiries established Skillen controlled this deal.
Thompson was bailed, and during the summer of 2011 the police operation to uncover the activities of the OCG continued.
On Friday 30 September 2011, Skillen, Thompson and Phythian went to Anderson's home in Ancoats. Skillen, Anderson and Phythian were seen taking a plastic carrier bag out of the boot of a silver Chevrolet Captiva and put it into a silver Ford Focus.
Phythian and Anderson drove off in the Focus, and Skillen and Thompson in the Chevrolet. The Focus travelled to Essex that evening and then returned to Manchester, where it was stopped by police with Anderson and Phythian inside. Three large blocks were found in the boot, and when forensically examined were found to be just shy of 3,000 grams of cocaine with a street value of up £150,000.
Anderson's home was searched and officers recovered an Asda shopping bag underneath his bag containing four bags of white powder, later found to be amphetamines worth up to £3,000.
On 17 November 2011, Skillen was spotted leaving a gym in Rochdale in a black Vauxhall Zafira. Police carried out an armed strike on the car on Edge Lane, Droylsden, and Skillen was arrested. A foil package was found in the boot containing three plastic bags with a combined weight of 2.99 kilograms of Methylethlcathinone with a street value of £45,000.
Skillen's home was also raided and about £10,000 in cash found in a kitchen drawer.
Detective Inspector Stephen Earnshaw, from GMP's Drug Unit, said: "Today is the reward for months of painstaking detective work by our officers to unmask this organised crime group and bring the main players to justice.
"At the head of this network was Skillen, who controlled those around him and was the main man in terms of organising the collection and delivery of large amounts of drugs in both Manchester and the rest of the country.
"By taking him and his lieutenants out of the game, what this means for the law-abiding people of our communities is less drugs on their streets and we know that people are fed up of drug dealers thinking they can strut about acting as if they are above the law.
"The fact is that no-one is above the law and what today shows is that Greater Manchester Police's Drug Unit will use every available tool in our arsenal to expose these drug dealers for the criminals they are. Regardless of whether you are a user, a supplier or the head of a network, we will be watching you and you will be brought to justice.
"I also want to stress that we do not rest when drug dealers are locked up. Using Proceeds of Crime Act legislation, we will hit these criminals where it really hurts - their wallets, and do everything in our power to take the money and property they have earned dealing drugs and profiting from people's addictions off them. Our message is clear: if you deal drugs you will lose your freedom and your assets."
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