How police caught gang flooding city with drugs
IN SEPTEMBER 2009, Damien Miller was jailed for seven years after admitting to leading a major drugs supply operation in Stoke-on-Trent.
His gang had attempted to flood the city's streets with 1kg of cocaine, but their enterprise was brought to an end by Staffordshire Police.
Miller was later transferred to HMP North Sea Camp in Lincolnshire, an open prison where inmates are released during the day and at weekends. For Miller, this was an opportunity to get back into the drug supply business.
Between March and June 2011 he co-ordinated the movement of drugs and cash across North Staffordshire, while remaining at a safe distance in Lincolnshire.
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In April his long-standing friend John Phillips, pictured below, became involved, and took on a more hands-on role in the Potteries.
But once again, the police would bring the operation to a halt, seizing more than 1kg of heroin and cocaine.
Officers were able to use mobile phone records to link low-level couriers to Miller and Phillips.
The pair were jailed for 10 years and seven-and-a-half years respectively at Stafford Crown Court yesterday, after admitting to conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine.
Seven others who played lesser roles in the operation were also sentenced.
Prosecutor Robert Price told the court: "These defendants were part of a group which was involved in the supply of class-A drugs in Staffordshire and laundered the profits generated by that activity.
"This was an organised enterprise. Different people played different roles. Some were the organisers, some assisted the organisers, and others simply acted upon instruction."
Between March and June police carried out a series of raids and seizures across Stoke-on-Trent, during which varying amounts of cocaine, heroin and cash were confiscated.
The first of these operations took place on March 17, when conspirator Otis Fox was stopped in his car by police. He was found in possession of cocaine worth around £2,000.
Less than two weeks later, the 22-year-old, of Kiln View, Hanley, was stopped again, and this time was found with £10,500 in cash.
Similar operations took place throughout April, May and June, culminating with a final raid on June 23.
At an address in Wise Street, Dresden, officers recovered large amounts of cocaine and heroin, with a street value of more than £62,000.
After each seizure of drugs, police observed increased contact between Miller, Phillips and the others, indicated their level of involvement.
But both Miller and Phillips claimed that there were others involved in the conspiracy who were ranked higher than even them.
Anthony Longworth, mitigating for Miller, said: "These two men were the 'local managers' rather than the 'head office'. That is the reality of their positions."
Robert Morris, mitigating for Phillips, said his client had made more money in his previous job as a plumber than he had as a drug dealer.
Of the other defendants who were sentenced yesterday, Fox played the most substantial role.
He was jailed for three years and three months after admitting to conspiracy to supply heroin and possession of criminal property.
His barrister Nicola Bell told the court that Fox had got involved through his friendship with Miller and had been a drug user himself.
Some of the defendants were paid small amounts for delivering drugs, or keeping packages safe in their homes.
Anthony Bostock was a drug addict who was given free cocaine to carry out jobs for the conspirators.
The court heard how Bostock, aged 32, of Keelings Road, Northwood, had since given up drugs after discovering a spiritual side while in prison.
He was sentenced to two years and three months after admitting to conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Scott Mosedale carried out two deliveries of heroin in May 2011, and admitted there would have been more if he had not been caught.
Richard Oldroyd, mitigating for Mosedale, told the court he 'bitterly' regretted his role in the operation.
The 26-year-old, of Sapphire Drive, Norton, was sentenced to two years and eight months.
Liam Myatt lived at the home in Wise Street, Dresden which was raided by police in June, although his involvement was very brief. He had allowed a friend to keep the heroin and cocaine in his bedroom for around 30 minutes, and admitted as much to police.
The 22-year-old was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
Stephanie Pitchford and Kerry Wilkinson had both been persuaded to hold on to drugs out of misplaced loyalty to Phillips. Neither was paid and their barristers said both deeply regretted their actions.
Pitchford, aged 22, of Almond Grove, Blurton, and Wilkinson, aged 25, of Heathcote Road, Longton admitted to conspiracy to supply cocaine, and were sentenced to two years and one year and eight months respectively.
Byron Dunkley was a student at Stafford College who was persuaded to deliver a relatively small quantity of heroin on April 13. The 21-year-old, of Talbot Road, Stafford, was jailed for 16 months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin.
Four more people who were involved in the conspiracy are due to be sentenced today.