Six men jailed for their roles in mass drug dealing conspiracy across the Fylde coast
Six more men have been sentenced for their roles in a mass drug dealing conspiracy across the Fylde coast.
Nine addresses in the Blackpool and Fleetwood areas were raided last March as part of Operation Jennet – a major investigation into drug dealing and money laundering on the Fylde coast.
Police said these seizures only represent a snapshot of the true scale of the drug dealing. While the seized drugs were worth around £700,000, the gang is believed to be responsible for bringing millions of pounds of drugs into Blackpool.
Phillip Bennett, 39, of Branstree Road, Mereside; Steven McIvor, 29, of Warley Road, North Shore; and Daniel Thornber, 37, of Dingle Avenue, Grange Park, were found guilty of conspiring to supply cocaine.
Co-defendant Callum Quinn, 22, of Sedbergh Avenue, Marton, pleaded guilty to the charge.
Judge Simon Medland QC sentenced Quinn to seven and a half years, Bennett to nine and a half years, and McIvor to eight years.
He said: “Into this already fragile community came this organised crime group. Drugs, especially class A drugs, ruin people’s lives.
“They break up families, ruin people’s health and wellbeing, corrode society, promoting organised gang crime and enriching powerful criminals at the expense of the weak and vulnerable.”
Thornber’s sentence has been adjourned to March 22, while Reece Fletcher, 23, of Lyncroft Crescent, Layton, will be sentenced on March 19 after previously admitting conspiracy to supply cannabis.
Matthew Evans, 33, of Peter Street, Blackpool; Ricky Jackson, 51 of Mardale Avenue, Mereside; and John Johnstone, 61, of Bowland Crescent, Grange Park, were found guilty of money laundering. Evans received four months, while Jackson and Johnstone got eight months.
Lifeboat volunteer Evans, who runs Evans and Sons property improvement and repairs in Blackpool, was secretly recorded handing over “five” – thought to refer £500 or £5,000 – while Johnstone had passed £11,200 cash to another drug dealer Scott Le Drew. Jackson had collected money on Tonner’s behalf.
The latest sentences come after 15 people – including Le Drew – were previously sentenced over the conspiracy in a linked trial, which had heard the criminal enterprise was headed by two brothers; Anthony Gill from Manchester and Bradley Gill from Blackpool.
In this case, the court heard Bennett worked for Tonner, storing and distributing cocaine, while McIvor sourced cocaine from Tonner through Bennett and was arrested with 70g of cocaine on him.
Thornber was a courier and Quinn bought ounces of cocaine to deal on Blackpool’s streets.
Judge Medland said the police’s findings were “truly disturbing and an insight into the level of this enterprise”.
Ashley Bucher, 21, of Ashton Road, Blackpool, and Elaine Jackson, of Mardale Road, were cleared.