The head of the operation, Robet Foxen, spent hour’s co-ordinating the ‘trusted’ dealers and suppliers using military-grade encrypted phones to evade detection.
Patrick O’Leary and Adam Ward reported into Foxen and his right-hand-man Alan McNally – the money man – who was responsible for managing the drug empire’s cash.
O’Leary and Ward also instructed the couriers, Jordan Roberts, Jason Wilson and Andrew Booth, where to drop the drugs.
In one of these transactions O’Leary became a bit more hands-on as he was instructed by Foxen to supply Anthony Hamnett with cocaine.
A flurry of calls followed, as Hamnett’s car – containing 7kgs of cocaine O’Leary had previously handed over – was stopped by officers.
His arrest sparked panic amongst the other key players but they had no idea police were closing in on their safe house at Maranatha Court. Officers later found 5kgs of cocaine hidden in a safe there intended to be distributed to their customers.
In the months that followed, officers continued to investigate the large scale supply of Class A drugs in Salford as part of Operation Legend.
Foxen and McNally thought they had hidden their involvement by encrypting the messages they sent to the dealers through state of the art phones, continuing to live a lavish lifestyle while their couriers were at risk of detection.
As soon as the drugs had been given to customers, the couriers would contact McNally so he could count the cash from each of the deals, which spanned across Greater Manchester and Lancashire.
Closing in on McNally’s involvement, officers searched his house and found £124,000 hidden in a suitcase under his bed, alongside a detailed tick list with how much cash he had counted for each deal.
Dedicated organised crime officers tasked with hunting down the group were finally able to bring the operation to a halt in late September 2017.
All the defendants pleaded guilty to a number of drugs offences at an earlier hearing and have today (Monday 29 October 2018) been sentenced to more than 77 plus years collectively in prison at Manchester Crown Court, Crown Square.
Police Superintendent Howard Millington of GMP’s Salford Borough, said:
“This group clearly ran a sophisticated operation, but their illicit drugs enterprise was brought to a halt by officers from the Serious and Organised Crime Group, working together with our partners and local officers.
“These individuals thought they could outsmart the criminal justice system by use of an elaborate supply network enabled by encrypted communication, in order to swamp Greater Manchester with illegal and dangerous drugs.
“However, their control is now over. They will now spend a collective seventy-plus years behind bars to contemplate their actions.
“We hope this provides reassurance to our communities that GMP continues to tackle those criminals who are not in plain view but clearly causing serious distress to others.”
The following have been sentenced for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs
• Robert Foxen (12/12/87) of Rocky Lane, Eccles has been sentenced to 10 years.
• Patrick O’Leary (10/12/67) of Adelaide Street, Swinton has been sentenced to seven years and four months.
• Adam Ward (12/11/87) of Mitchell Street, Eccles has been sentenced to six years.
• Andrew Booth (10/10/83) of Sandy Lane, Prestwich has been sentenced to six years and four months.
• Dean McKenna (22/04/67) of Dover Street, Eccles has been sentenced to four years.
• Andrew Grantham (08/09/78) of Dovedale Ave, Eccles has been sentenced to four years and 10 months.
• Liam Carroll (29/05/98) of Prestwich Street, Burnley has been sentenced to six years
• Michael Grattan (08/05/87) of Lower Clough Street, Barrowford, Burnley has been sentenced to six years
• Anthony Hamnet (23/06/85) of Harold Street, Prestwich was previously sentenced to seven years.
Jordan Roberts (01/05/92) of Sutherland Street, Eccles and Jason Wilson (16/06/70) of Barton Road, Eccles have also been sentenced for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and production of Class B drugs.
Roberts was sentenced to four years and Wilson was sentenced to four years.
Alan McNally (20/10/87) of Overdale, Swinton has been sentenced for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was sentenced to six years and eight months.
Dean Ashworth (22/04/87) of Garnett Street, Burnley has also been sentenced for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, possession of Class B drugs and possession of a prohibited weapon (CS spray). He has been sentenced to six years.