Blackpool drugs lord and his associates sentenced for arranging to flood the North West with cocaine
THE HEAD of a North West crime group who fled the country to Spain and his criminal associates have today (31 January 2014) and yesterday been jailed for over 80 years for their part in the supply of drugs into the North West.
Lee Broadbent, 33, of Mains Lane, Poulton-le-Fylde was given a 16 year sentence following a seven-week long trial at Preston Crown Court where he was found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – cocaine.
Michael Johnson, 32, of Thirlmere Road, Partington, Manchester was jailed for 11 years after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – cocaine.
Adam Boyd, 44, of Brier Hill Court, Manchester, was jailed for nine years after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – cocaine.
David Wignall, 44, of Claremont Road, Blackpool, was jailed for six years, four months after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – cocaine.
Jamie May, 38, of Foxdale Avenue, Blackpool, was jailed for six years, four months after previously being found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – cocaine.
Gary Gairns, 33, of Marcer Road, Miles Platting, Greater Manchester, was jailed for six years after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – cocaine.
Kevin Cawdrey, 28, Stickens Lock Lane, Irlam, Manchester was jailed for five years, six months having previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – cocaine.
Jeremy Lowe, 44, of Brier Hill Court, Manchester, was jailed for four years after previously being found guilty to conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – cocaine.
Michael Oakden, 38, of Wingate Road, Little Hulton, Manchester, was jailed for three years, six months after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – cocaine.
Waseem Afzal, 32 of Camden Street, Nelson was jailed for eight years after previously being found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – cocaine.
Paul Gairns, 35 of Kittybert Avenue, Manchester was jailed for six years after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs – cocaine.
Broadbent’s partner Jacqueline Thomas, 31, of Mains Lane, Poulton-le-Fylde was also given a two year suspended sentence after having previously been found guilty of money laundering following a previous trial at Preston Crown Court.
Lancashire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit’s launched Operation Oriole in September 2011 to dismantle the gang, their supply chain and to remove potentially harmful substances from the county’s streets.
As head of the crime group, Broadbent’s role was to organise and delegate tasks to others, based in Lancashire and Manchester, regarding the supply and distribution of several kilos of cocaine. This was mainly done through mobile phone contact which allowed Broadbent to distance himself from the operation.
His partner Jacqueline Thomas also assisted Broadbent by supplying him with an unregistered mobile phone which he used to conduct his illegal business, arranged his travel to go on the run in Spain and she additionally enjoyed the lavish lifestyle that his ill-gotten gains provided.
On 4 October 2011, Broadbent and one of his associates David Wignall, were seen supplying cocaine to another criminal, Gary Gairns, on a car park at Tesco on Clifton Road , Blackpool. A search of Gairns’ vehicle revealed a package hidden under the front passenger seat containing 1003 grams of cocaine of 87% purity, with a street value of £130,000.
Gary Gairns was subsequently arrested and charged with possession with intent to supply cocaine.
That evening, Broadbent left his home address. The day after he fled the country to Malaga, Spain via Glasgow and then Belfast. Despite being abroad, he still continued to distribute cocaine around the North West, giving orders to other drugs suppliers via pay-as-you-go mobile telephones which he believed were unlikely to be traced.
On 10 October 2011, Jacqueline Thomas travelled from Liverpool John Lennon Airport to Malaga, Spain, in order to provide him with a new mobile phone so he could keep in contact with his associates and continue the supply of drugs.
On the same day, a series if calls took place between Jamie May, Kevin Cawdrey, Michael Johnson and Broadbent which led to a meeting between Cawdrey and May, who was in charge of overseeing the movement of Broadbent’s drugs whilst he was out of the country. At this meeting, the three arranged for a package of cocaine to be collected by David Wignall in Blackpool. This exchange took place two days later on 12 October 2011.
Also on that date (12 October), Cawdrey, Wignall, Broadbent, Johnson and May were in touch, arranging another delivery of cocaine to a Manchester crime group controlled by Johnson. This contact culminated in Wignall supplying a kilo of cocaine to Cawdrey who travelled from Manchester to Blackpool to collect it. This exchange was brokered between Broadbent and May.
The day after (13 October), Lowe was seen by police getting into a vehicle with Wignall holding a package believed to be cocaine. He was later seen exiting the vehicle without the package. The car was stopped by police and the 1kg of cocaine was recovered, of 62% purity with a street value in excess of £100,000.
Also on that day (13 October), Oakden, Wignall, Broadbent, Boyd were in contact. Later, Wignall was seen walking with a concealed package under his jacket after visiting an address in Blackpool. He then got into Oakden’s vehicle and after a short drive, Wignall exited the car without the item. Oakden was stopped by police, and over two kilos of cocaine (1002g at 70% purity, 1010g at 78% purity) worth approximately £259,000, along with around £10,000 in cash was found in the vehicle.
Oakden was then arrested and charged with possession with intent to supply cocaine.
Following extensive telephone analysis, Waseem Afzal and Paul Gairns (the brother of Gary Gairns) were also linked to the gang and their activities.
On 11 January 2012, a series of warrants were executed at addresses associated with those involved. During a raid at Adam Boyd’s home address, £69,179.80 in cash was found.
After the warrants, the majority involved were arrested and charged, apart from Broadbent, who was still in Spain, and May, who went on the run also to Spain. He was eventually arrested at a railway station in Madrid on 23 March 2012. He was formally charged on 3 April 2012.
Officers were working to locate Broadbent and bring him back to the UK to be charged with drugs offences. He managed to evade capture until he was eventually caught by the Spanish National Police at the Aqualand water attraction in Torremolinos on 15 August 2012. He was formally charged on 14 September 2012.
Speaking after sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Graham Gallagher of Lancashire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), said: “I am pleased with today’s results that have come at the end of a long and complex investigation that has spanned well over two years.
“This gang, with Broadbent at its head, were responsible for the planning and importing of cocaine, with large street values, into the North West. I have no doubt that they planned to sell these drugs on within Lancashire and Manchester.
“Drugs cause damage to our communities; they blight our neighbourhoods and fuel other crimes.
“This gang will now be put behind bars and their sentences show the determination of our Serious and Organised Crime Unit in identifying and bringing to justice, professional, organised and lifestyle criminals who cause harm to our communities.
“Let this serve as a warning to other criminals involved in any type of drug-related crime. We will find you and put you before the courts.”
Anyone with information about suspicious activity in their community should contact the police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. In an emergency always dial 999.