Operation Zeus: County lines drug gang face being stripped of criminal assets

Twenty-six members of a criminal gang sentenced to 183 years for flooding North Wales with drugs are to be made to pay back thousands of pounds of criminal earnings. The gang were all convicted as part of Operation Zeus[1] , which yielded the largest total sentence for a single drugs operation in the North Wales Police[2] area in December last year. The 24 men and two women from Manchester, Liverpool, Rhyl[3] , Colwyn Bay[4] , Llandudno[5] and Holyhead[6]   were part of an organised crime gang whose web spread across the coastal strip of North Wales[7] .

Some appeared in Mold[8] Crown Court[9] today to agree to pay back sums varying from GBP1 to GBP18,393 gained from criminality. Fourteen defendants’ cases were adjourned until December 23 and 24, when they will be heard in full. Three other gang members will appear in court on October 18 to agree amounts they need to repay.

One defendant will appear in court on December 2 to proceed with his hearing. Aled Gray, who was said by police to be the ringleader of the drugs “consortium”[10] , was not listed to face a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing. Eight members of the gang agreed repayments under POCA at today’s hearing.

The criminal benefit calculated by the police and CPS is a figure by which they say you benefited via property, goods, cash, etc, from your criminal enterprise.

Ben Hayward

Ben Hayward who was sentenced at Mold Crown Court following Operation Zeus

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Hayward’s criminal benefit was calculated as GBP2,701,377. However his “available assets” were deemed non-existent, so he was ordered to pay a nominal GBP1 by January 10, 2020, or face and additional six months in jail. Hayward, from Colwyn Bay, was sentenced to four years for for conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Zach Anthony Leuty

Zach Anthony Leuty, 29, of Lake Avenue, Rhyl, was sentenced to six years for conspiracy to supply cocaine with his suspended sentence activated to run concurrently. He was said to be the head of the Rhyl arm of the distribution operation.

Leuty was deemed to have benefited to the tune of GBP2,720,956 from his dealings with the gang. His available assets were also assessed as virtually nothing so he was ordered to pay a nominal GBP1 by January 10, 2020, or face a further six months in jail.

Leuty, from Rhyl, was sentenced to six years for conspiracy to supply cocaine with his suspended sentence activated to run concurrently.

Thomas Middleton

Operation Zeus: County lines drug gang face being stripped of criminal assetsThomas Middleton, 23, of Beach Close, Holyhead, was sentenced to four years and six months for the main conspiracy to supply cocaine, and a further two years to run consecutively for possessing MDMA with intent to supply, making six and a half years in total.

He provided distribution for the western arm of the group and was also supplying considerable amounts of MDMA. A search of his address found 997 tablets of the drug and he admitted holding drugs for the group.

Middleton was said to have benefited by GBP2,701, 601 from the criminality. His available assets were set at GBP60 which he must pay back by January 10, 2020, or face an extra six months in prison.

Middleton, from Holyhead, was sentenced to four years and six months for the main conspiracy to supply cocaine, and a further two years to run consecutively for possessing MDMA with intent to supply – six and a half years in total.

Lee Eastham Jones

Operation Zeus: County lines drug gang face being stripped of criminal assetsLee Eastham Jones, 28 of Elwy Gardens, Llandudno, was sentenced to eight years in prison for conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis. He had responsibility for the handling and onward distribution of cocaine.

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Jones benefited from GBP2,713,904 as a result of his criminality according to the agreed figure.

His available assets were agreed at GBP5,200 which he must surrender by January 10, 2020, or face a further six months in jail. Jones, from Llandudno, was sentenced to eight years in prison for conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis

Barry Lee Haigh

Operation Zeus: County lines drug gang face being stripped of criminal assetsBarry Lee Haigh who was sentenced at Mold Crown Court following Operation Zeus

Haigh was said to have benefited from GBP2,711,542 in criminal gains as part of the operation. He was ordered to pay GBP18,393.04 under POCA.

Haigh, from Holyhead, was sentenced to four years and six months for conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Kelly Mercer

Operation Zeus: County lines drug gang face being stripped of criminal assetsKelly Mercer, 29, of Maes Derw, Llandudno Junction, was sentenced to 18 months in custody for conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Mercer’s benefit from her criminality was assessed as being GBP10,160.64. She was ordered to repay a nominal GBP1 under POCA by January 10, 2020, or face a further six months in jail. Mercer, from Llandudno Junction, was sentenced to 18 months custody for conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Lee Bamber

Operation Zeus: County lines drug gang face being stripped of criminal assetsLee Bamber, 45 of Cholmondley Road, Salford, was said to be a courier for Jordan Peeks, meeting with representatives of the Holyhead and Llandudno groups directly. He was sentenced to six years in jail for conspiracy to supply cocaine.

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Bamber was said to have gained GBP2,813,943 in criminal benefits. His available assets were calculated as being GBP3,730 which must be paid by January 10, 2020, or he will face a further six months behind bars.

Bamber, from Salford, was sentenced to six years for conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Jordan Ryan Peeks

Operation Zeus: County lines drug gang face being stripped of criminal assetsJordan Ryan Peeks, 37, known as George, of Mallow Street, Hulme, Manchester, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis.

Peeks (also known as “George”) was said to have gained GBP2,706,570 from his criminality. His available assets were assessed as being GBP415.49 which must be handed over by January 10, 2020, or he will face an extra six months behind bars. Peeks, from Hulme, Manchester, was sentenced to 10 years for conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis.

The following gang members will appear in court on October 18 for POCA hearings:

  • Andrew Aldred
  • Jay Glen Wesley Peeks
  • Christopher Bennett

Philip Scarisbrick will appear at Mold Crown Court on December 2 for his case to be mentioned.

The following defendants contest their orders and their cases will be heard between December 23 and 24.

They are:

  • James Hendry
  • Gareth Lee Hastie
  • Eric John Rowlands
  • David Cuffin
  • Cain Michael Jones
  • Matthew Philip Jones
  • Liam Joseph Roberts
  • Shaun Kearns
  • Darren Myles
  • William Oliver Carlisle
  • Hayley Evans
  • Simon Farrar
  • Nathan David Jeavons
  • Richard Williams

References

  1. ^ Operation Zeus (www.dailypost.co.uk)
  2. ^ North Wales Police (www.dailypost.co.uk)
  3. ^ Rhyl (www.dailypost.co.uk)
  4. ^ Colwyn Bay (www.dailypost.co.uk)
  5. ^ Llandudno (www.dailypost.co.uk)
  6. ^ Holyhead (www.dailypost.co.uk)
  7. ^ were part of an organised crime gang whose web spread across the coastal strip of North Wales (www.dailypost.co.uk)
  8. ^ Mold (www.dailypost.co.uk)
  9. ^ Court (www.dailypost.co.uk)
  10. ^ Aled Gray, who was said by police to be the ringleader of the drugs “consortium” (www.dailypost.co.uk)

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