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West Wales drugs ring – guilty get 61 years

Smashed: West Wales drug ring (Stock image)
Smashed: West Wales drug ring (Stock image)

SEVENTEEN people were sentenced to a total of 61 years in jail on Friday (Apri 10)  for their involvement in a cocaine supply ring.

The arrests were the result of Operation Redcliff, which targeted the supply of cocaine into south-west Wales.

Nine of the people sentenced were from the Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire area.

Jail sentences totalling 61 years have been handed down today after a “professional and meticulous” police operation trapped a gang running drugs into Pembrokeshire.

The so called “Liverpool Connection” arranged for large amounts of cocaine to be delivered to Milford Haven, Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock.

One drugs “meet” took place at Carmarthen golf club without the club being aware,Swansea crown court was told.

Robin Rouch, prosecuting, said police used cameras fitted with automatic number plate recognition to track the gang’s movements and bugged conversations as part of Operation Redcliff.

The drugs running was “interrupted” in September, 2012, after John Underwood was arrested at Cwmgwili when police stopped his van and found £4,200 worth of cocaine. He was jailed for 18 months but resumed his criminal activities after his release.

The court heard many of the gang had few or no previous convictions and a leading figure in the West Wales end of the operation, David “Jamie” Evans, was a family man who once won a Welsh cap for water polo.

In March 2014, £50,000 worth of cocaine was seized in a car in West Wales and officers from Operation Redcliff began making a series of arrests.

Mr Rouch said, “Those in the conspiracy used mobile phones which were often unregistered and pre-paid.. Amounts of money were paid into bank accounts in West Wales that was then transferred to people living in Merseyside.”

He said it was impossible to be exact about the amount of cocaine supplied between 2012 and 2014 but it was estimated to be worth at least £200,000.

A total of 17 defendants were sentenced over a two day hearing that ended today.

Judge Paul Thomas told them, “People like you who decide to get involved in dealing with large quantities of cocaine do so in the knowledge that if caught they will get long sentences in jail.

“You all took a calculated risk and now that you have lost that particular gamble you will pay the price.”

The Judge praised the Dyfed Powys police officers involved as being “professional and meticulous.”

Judge Thomas described Jamie Evans, aged 42, of Crud y Wawr, St Clears, as the “lynchpin” of the West Wales part of the drugs operation. He was jailed for eight years.

John Underwood, 30, of Coronation Drive, Prescott, Merseyside, was given eight years.

Peter Cummins, 29, from Byron Avenue, Whiston, Merseyside, was given six and a half years for his “significant role”.

Labourer Jenkin Davies, 55, of Bwlch Newydd, Cynwyl Elfed, was given five and a half years for his role as Jamie Evans’s “right hand man” in West Wales.

Richard Houghton, 32, of Ridings Close, St Helens, described as a courier, was jailed for four and a half years.

David Campbell, 58, of Patterson Street, Birkenhead was jailed for three years. He was caught with cocaine worth £50,000.

Greg Mackenzie, 28, of Blaenwaun, Whitland, was jailed for four years and John Fitzgerald, 44, of Prior Ledge Drive, Milford Haven got four and a half years.

Craig Cann, 34, of Trebannog Road, Porth, and Ross Hutchings, 25, of Gordon Street, Ton Pentre, described by Judge Thomas as being “at the Rhondda Valley end of the operation” were each jailed for three years while Thomas Charles Salmon, 33, from Llanmill, Narberth, was jailed for two years and eight months and Emanuel Handford, 23, of Glannant Road, Carmarthen got two years and four months.

They had all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Daniel Gila, 26, of City Road, Haverfordwest, was found guilty of the charge after a trial and he was jailed for five years.

Rebecca Underwood, 28, of Whiston, Merseyside was jailed for 16 weeks, suspended for 12 months for laundering the gang’s money. Judge Thomas said he appreciated she would be left to bring up a young family alone once he had jailed her husband John Underwood.

Mark Tinsley, 32, of Dennett Road, Prescott was ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work for the community for money laundering.

Both, said Judge Thomas, had provided the gang with a valuable service by allowing “large amounts of money” to pass through their bank accounts.

Adam Evans, 27, of Queen Road, Llanelli, got a nine month sentence suspended for a year for the lesser charge of being concerned in the supply of cocaine and Louise Thornton, 27, of Whitemill, Lampeter Velfrey was given 16 months suspended for a year with both being given unpaid work orders.

Detective Inspector Huw Davies of the Serious and Organised Crime team welcomed the sentences.

“They send a clear signal out to the criminal fraternity that drug offences will not be tolerated in the Dyfed-Powys area and officers will do their utmost to bring cases to court,” he said.

“Today’s outcome is the result of a complex and protracted operation conducted by Dyfed-Powys Police into the trafficking of substantial quantities of Class A drugs, namely Cocaine, into the force area, in this case 1 kilo of the drug was recovered.”

“I would encourage anyone who has concerns over the trafficking of drugs to contact local police.”

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The full list of those convicted is as follows:

David James Lloyd Evans b. 01/03/1973 Carmarthen – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 7 years

Jenkin Anthony Davies b.27/03/1959 Carmarthen – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 5 ½ years

Greg Ian Mackenzie b.23/02/1986 Narberth – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 4 years

Thomas Charles Salmon b.18/03/1981 Narberth – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 32 months

Louise Thornton b.25/04/1986 Narberth – Being concerned in the supply of cocaine – 16 months suspended for 2 years

Richard Houghton b.04/04/1983 St Helens – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 4 ½ years

David Campbell b. 27/04/1956 Merseyside – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 3 years

John William Fitzgerald b.23/12/1969 Milford Haven – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 4 ½ years

John Paul Underwood b.06/07/1983 Merseyside – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 8 years

Peter Cummins b.14/11/1984 Merseyside – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 6 ½ years

Daniel Alexander Gila b.134/02/1988Haverfordwest – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 5 years

Emanuel Lee Hanford b.13/11/1990 – Carmarthen – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 28 months

Craig Cann b.08/11/1980 Porth – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 3 years

Ross Hutchings b.30/07/1989 Ton Pentre – Conspiracy to supply cocaine – 3 years

Adam John Evans b.19/08/1988 Treorchy  – Being concerned in the supply of cocaine – 9 months suspended for 2 years

Mark Tinsley b.21/03/1982 Merseyside – Money laundering – converting criminal property – 240 hours community service

Rebecca Jade Underwood b.20/07/1986 – Merseyside – Money laundering – converting criminal property – 4 months suspended for 1 year