Five members of a £12.5 million heroin gang who were behind more than a million drug deals on the streets of Brighton have been jailed for 67 years in total.
They were snared by detectives after an 11-month operation having bought about 110kg of heroin with 60 per cent purity which they cut and mixed into “tenths” – or 0.1 gram deals – with 30 per cent purity.
They picked up the heroin in Liverpool and brought it to Woodingdean, to the Langley Crescent address of Kingsley Walls, who died aged 44 before he could be sentenced.
There, in the kitchen, it was diluted with caffeine and paracetamol before being sold on the streets of Brighton and Hove.
He was one of 13 people to be charged after a series of raids on Tuesday 24 March 2015 at nine addresses in Brighton, one in Eastbourne and one in Liverpool. Five of them were jailed today (Friday 19 May) by Judge Anthony Niblett at Hove Crown Court.
Detectives from the Organised Crime Investigation Team in Brighton led a hundred police officers and staff as they executed the search warrants.
They found more than 13lb (6kg) of heroin mixed with cutting agent, with an estimated street value of £600,000 as well as £50,000 cash. Three safes were also found.
Four of them died before they could be sentenced, including Walls and the gang’s mastermind Thomas “Tommy” Wynn, from Liverpool, who died aged 49 in Dubai.
Today the court accepted evidence that Lee Mack, 50, of Sheepcote Valley Caravan Park, Brighton, died last month from cancer and cirrhosis of the liver, and that Andrew Antoniou, 58, of Dorset Mews, Brighton, died from cancer earlier this month.
Caroline Haughey, prosecuting, said: “This was a sophisticated commercial operation to sell heroin on the streets of Brighton for profit and motivated by greed.
“We know that only this week there have been another three deaths from heroin on the streets of Brighton.”
The men jailed for conspiring to supply heroin were
• Lea Elton Smith, 46, of Natal Road, Brighton, was jailed for 25 years. Smith denied his part in the conspiracy but was convicted after a seven-week trial of being at the heart of the operation, running the Brighton end of the business.
• Tommy Wynn’s stepson John Paul Swann, 33, of Colin Drive, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin at the start of the retrial in January. He was jailed for 15 years.
• Neil Ballard, 48, of Hangleton Road, Hove, admitted conspiring to supply heroin. He was jailed for seven years. He has recently completed a three-year sentence for previous drugs offences.
• Paul Shannon, 60, of North Street, Eastbourne, admitted conspiring to supply heroin. He was jailed for 10 years.
• Arthur Jones, 55, Downs Avenue, Eastbourne, admitted conspiring to supply heroin. He was also jailed for 10 years.
Of the others who were charged, Ronald Edwards, 50, of Chiddingly Close, Whitehawk, and Sean Davidson, 49, of Downhill View, Woodingdean, were found not guilty of conspiracy to supply heroin.
The jury was unable to reach a verdict when Louis Makai, 45, of Langridge Drive, Portslade, was tried. He faces a retrial in November or December.
Ian Gerald Frost, 48, of St Michael’s Place, Brighton, was found not guilty of conspiracy to supply heroin but admitted unrelated charges which are being dealt with separately.