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Force’s largest county lines operation results in 141 years of jail time

Operation Spartans was an eight month investigation culminating in a raid day on Wednesday 11 August last year.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week, members from six gangs uncovered during the operation were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court. One had previously been sentenced earlier in March and four remaining gangs will be sentenced next month. 

After this week, 30 men and one woman have been given custodial sentences totalling 141 years and eight months. All the defendants had entered a guilty plea. 

At least six gangs were estimated to have made a combined total of between £558,000 and £1,116,000 . 

A range of tactics had been used by officers including an undercover officer and targeting the gangs’ use of mobile phones. 

Detective Superintendent Simon Draco, Cheshire Constabulary’s lead for serious and organised crime, said: “These gangs had effectively taken over Warrington using local parks frequented by children as locations to deal class A drugs from. 

“Gangs from both cities [Manchester and Merseyside], along with some operating locally, had established themselves in the town with drugs being openly supplied in the community.

“This led to officers receiving lots of information from the public painting a picture of what was taking place.”

The largest of the 11 OCGs identified was the ‘Long Haired Luke Team,’ which ended up taking over the entire drug market in Warrington, although it had began by operating under the radar, basing themselves in one person’s home. Within weeks, the team was using multiple properties. 

One of their text messages ‘Long haired luke back on 247 all day and all night everyday fattest and best stuff in Warrington’ was sent to 79 different numbers in one day. 

This team supplied drugs to an undercover officer on 13 occasions. 

Three of the gang were filmed walking around with an axe and a further member of the gang was arrested in June in possession of a machete. 

Det Supt Draco explained that the operation began thanks to community intelligence. 

He said: “The evidence gathered for the entire case was built so strongly that all the defendants entered a guilty plea.

“I want to thank the public for coming forward with information that has led us to where we are today and to encourage people to keep reporting this activity so that together we can make the community even safer for residents and hostile for criminals."

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