Members of a serious organised crime group have been jailed for a combined total of nearly a 140 years, after drugs worth over £3 million were seized in a joint operation between Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire police forces.
The final set of verdicts were heard this week and come after a two-year-long cross-border operation, led by GMP’s Serious and Organised Crime Group, into the substantial supply of class A and B drugs between Bury and Doncaster – Operation Heart.
The following group were sentenced between Monday 27 July and Wednesday 29 July 2020 at Manchester Crown Court, Crown Square, for conspiracy to supply class A drugs:
Abia Din of Woodman Drive, Bury – 18 years;
Shazia Din of The Drive, Bury – 15 years;
Hassan Din of The Drive, Bury – 14 years;
Natalie Wrafter of Harewood Avenue, Doncaster – 11 years and three months;
Adam Hopewell of Whitcomb Drive, Rossington – nine years and six months;
Lee Davis of Polefield Hall Road, Prestwich – nine years;
Mark Bird of Stonegate Mews, Doncaster – seven years;
Graham Towriss of Hartford Avenue, Heywood – six years;
After a delay in proceedings due to COVID-19, the following five men were sentenced between Tuesday 1 December and Wednesday 2 December 2020 at Manchester Crown Court, Crown Square, for conspiracy to supply class A drugs:
Melvyn Sheldon of East Avenue, Doncaster – six years;
Rocky Smith of Tranmore Lane, Goole – five years and six months;
Jonathon Ramsbottom of Boleyn Court, Rochdale – four years and six months;
James Dickson of Folijambe Crescent, Doncaster – four years and six months;
David Wright of Fletcher Close, Heywood – four years.
The following were also convicted for class A drug offences and were sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court:
Peter Wrafter of Harewood Avenue, Doncaster, was sentenced on Wednesday 3 April 2019 to 12 years imprisonment;
Alan Forster of Wheatley Hall Road, Doncaster, was sentenced on Wednesday 22 May 2019 to three years and six months imprisonment;
Lewis Darcy of Whitcomb Drive, New Rossington, was sentenced on Wednesday 22 May 2019 to five years imprisonment.
The following were also sentenced:
Philip Pagin of Bankwood Lane, Doncaster, was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court, Crown Square, on Monday 3 August 2020 to two years for conspiracy to supply amphetamine;
Arjan Bedesha of Woodside Grove, County Durham, was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court on Friday 1 March 2019 to three years and four months for money laundering offences.
The operation, which involved officers from Doncaster’s Fortify team and GMP’s Serious Organised Crime Group, saw multiple warrants executed at a number of addresses in Doncaster and the Greater Manchester area last July.
The warrants were executed in a targeted strike day, following months of work by officers in both forces to identify individuals involved in a complex and sophisticated drugs supply route between Doncaster and north Manchester.
Seven addresses were targeted in Doncaster in the New Rossington, Woodlands and Balby areas, in addition to a further seven warrants in Bury, Ashton and Heywood.
Several kilograms of controlled drugs and approximately £20,000 cash was seized in those warrants.
Throughout the course of the investigation, over 30 kilograms of heroin, over 30 kilograms of amphetamine, over three kilograms of cocaine and over one kilogram of cannabis was seized, as well as over £300,000 in cash, a hydraulic press, a firearm and ammunition.
Acting Detective Inspector Lee Wilson from Doncaster CID said: “This is a significant result for both South Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, as a large number of individuals involved in serious organised crime are now behind bars.
“Our partnership working also saw the seizure of significant amounts of drugs, which cause untold harm within our communities, and cash – ill-gotten gains from this group’s criminal lifestyle.
“We remain absolutely steadfast in our commitment to tackling organised crime and drug supply within Doncaster and South Yorkshire, to keep our residents safe.
“We know that organised criminal groups such as this can often prey on our most vulnerable members of the community and make people feel intimidated or scared to tell the police what’s happening.
“I am grateful to the officers from our Fortify team for their relentless efforts and to the officers from GMP whom we have worked alongside throughout, to disassemble this complex and substantial criminal network that spanned two force areas.
“I hope today’s result sends a strong message that forces across the country will stop at nothing to bring organised criminals before the courts and where those groups cross force borders, we will work together and combine our efforts to bring to justice those who would seek to cause harm and fear within our communities.”
Three other men from Doncaster were sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court last year for offences connected to the same drugs conspiracy.
Detective Inspector Lee Griffin, of GMP’s Serious and Organised Crime Group, said: “During the operation we scrutinised this group intensely as we uncovered their illicit activities across the country, enabling us to gather evidence and unravel the conspiracy.
“It is thanks to the hard work of all the officers in this case from Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire Police that a group of criminals using sophisticated methods have been stopped from deluging our streets with huge amounts of drugs.
“We have disrupted the supply of drugs and cash payments between the regions of not just Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire, but across the UK.
“Drugs wreck lives, destroy relationships and blight our communities. Those who are responsible for supplying illegal drugs to vulnerable people deserve no place in our society, and our community is a safer place with them behind bars. It was also clear in this case vulnerable people were exploited to further the illegal trade in drugs.
“I hope this sentencing sends a clear message that GMP will work with our colleagues around the UK to relentlessly pursue those persons who supply harmful drugs and we will go to great lengths to bring them to justice.”