A Cheshire Constabulary investigation has led to the imprisonment of a 20-strong organised crime gang for attempting to smuggle cocaine through a port into other force areas.
The Force Crime Operations Unit began the investigation into the gang, which operated out of Ellesmere Port, in spring 2010 and gathered intelligence for more than a year before arrests were made in late 2011.
The gang was jailed for conspiracy to supply and distribute Class A drugs to â€œlower-tier crime groupsâ€ in Merseyside, West Mercia, Manchester, North Wales and Cumbria.
Twenty people received sentences from six months to nine years â€“ a total of 72 years between them – at Chester Crown Court.
Op Barometer was investigated by Cheshire Constabulary’s Force Crime Operations Unit. The operation was launched in Spring 2010 and concluded in autumn 2011 and involved many hours of intelligence gathering.
The gang, who â€œportrayed themselves as untouchableâ€, were instrumental in the supply of cocaine to crime groups within Ellesmere Port â€“ as well as the production of cannabis.
DI Sarah Pengelly, of the Force Crime Operations Unit, said: â€œThe investigation was the result of months of intelligence gathering in relation to the activities of these individuals.
â€œMembers of the gang have shown a blatant disregard for the law – with little or no thought behind the potential implications of their illegal activities.
â€œWe hope that the lengthy sentences handed down to the defendants will act as a deterrent to others.
â€œIllegal drugs have no place in Cheshire and we will continue to work alongside colleagues from other forces to track down those responsible for this type of crime and bring them to justice.â€