12 Sentenced in Staffordshire Police Drug Operation
Eleven people have been jailed for almost 40 years for their part in the supply of Class A drugs and money laundering in Stoke-on-Trent. Lincolnshire Police successfully assisted with the case, which has links to the county.
All have been sentenced at Stafford Crown Court over the last two days (Thursday and Friday) after pleading guilty to various offences at previous hearings.
Damien Miller (pictured), aged 31, a Stoke-on-Trent man and serving prisoner, was sentenced to 10 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine.
Dane Parker, aged 23, of Finstock Avenue, Stoke-on-Trent, admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine and conspiracy to money launder. He was jailed for three years, eight months.
Scott Mosedale, aged 26, of Sapphire Drive, Stoke-on-Trent, admitted conspiracy to supply heroin. He was sentenced to two years, eight months.
Ryan Jones, aged 27, of Portland Street, Stoke-on-Trent, admitted possessing criminal property and conspiracy to money launder. He got one year, two months.
Stephanie Pitchford, aged 22, of Almond Grove, Stoke-on-Trent, admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine. She was sentenced to two years.
Kerry Wilkinson, aged 25, of Heathcote Road, Stoke-on-Trent, admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine. She was jailed for one year, eight months.
Byron Dunkley, aged 21, of Talbot Road, Stafford, admitted conspiracy to supply heroin. He has gone to prison for 16 months.
Otis Fox, aged 22, a serving prisoner, admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and the possession of criminal property. He denied conspiracy to supply cocaine. He went to prison for three years, three months.
Anthony Bostock, aged 32, of Keelings Road, Stoke-on-Trent, admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine. He has been jailed for two years, three months.
John Phillips, aged 29, of Rownall Road, Stoke-on-Trent, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine and conspiracy to money launder. He has been sentenced to seven years, six months.
Liam Myatt, aged 22, of Wise Street, Stoke-on-Trent, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine. He was jailed for three years.
Darina Garkavaya, aged 24, of Princes Street, Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty to money laundering. She received a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for 12-months, and 150 hours unpaid work.
Adrian Clewlow, aged 27, of Weston Drive, Stoke-on-Trent, admitted being in possession of criminal property and money laundering. He is due to be sentenced on Wednesday 17 October.
Staffordshire Police had identified a rise in violent incidents (including assaults and town centre disorder) in Stoke-on-Trent, apparently linked to organised criminals involved in trafficking Class A drugs. This was one of several operations launched to tackle that threat and it soon emerged that one of the principal people involved in controlling this particular group was Damien Miller.
In September 2008 Miller, from Stoke-on-Trent, had been convicted for conspiracy to supply cocaine and was sentenced the following September (2009) to seven years imprisonment.
Miller went on to serve the latter part of his sentence at the Lincolnshire open prison, HMP North Sea Camp. But it became apparent he was controlling his group’s criminal activity in Stoke-on-Trent from afar.
With the support of HMP North Sea Camp’s Governor and his team, together with Lincolnshire Police, Staffordshire Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit were able to coordinate a complex operation to bring Miller and his group to justice.
From an early stage this also meant close working with Staffordshire Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and colleagues from the local policing team in Stoke-on-Trent.
On a daily basis, as part of his rehabilitation, Miller left the prison to carry out employment in the area. But this was quickly established to be a cover as he was controlling individuals and organising them to supply drugs on his behalf.
John Phillips was Miller’s ‘right-hand man’ in Stoke-on-Trent and controlled the day-to-day running of the drug crime while Miller was in Lincolnshire.
Inquiries revealed that Miller was controlling the drug supply through Phillips and he was accessing the bank accounts of others to enable funds to be passed from Stoke-on-Trent to Lincolnshire.
As a result of this, Miller was building a comfortable life in Lincolnshire and benefiting from the profits of supplying drugs.
Det Ch Insp Paul Clews, head of Staffordshire Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said:
“Building a case against Miller, Phillips and their associates took a considerable team effort involving several agencies and police departments.
“However, the trafficking of Class A drugs causes misery to numerous people, is inexorably linked to serious crime and can often have hidden impact on communities. The benefits are felt throughout the community and it is hoped this latest sentencing will help us to further reduce drug-related violence in both the town centre and estates of Stoke-on-Trent and beyond.
“Miller did not handle the drugs himself, but got other people to do his dirty work for him. As head of the group he was controlling everyone, and everything, from a distance. But by piecing together a series of events we were able to uncover Miller’s involvement and the extent of his crime, along with that of all the others involved.
“We gathered evidence of events which led to cash and drugs being recovered. We have CCTV footage of Phillips meeting Miller at a pub in Nottingham. All aspects of Miller’s life in Lincolnshire were thoroughly investigated.
“This case has also shown that some of those involved in this Organised Crime Group were vulnerable individuals who were easily manipulated by Miller and Phillips. People like this, who are so easily exploited by criminals, end up paying a high price.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the hard-work and dedication of everyone involved in bringing this group down. The commitment shown by our officers and staff, together with colleagues at the CPS, HMP North Sea Camp and Lincolnshire Police must be acknowledged.
“We always respond to community concerns over violence, drugs and the anti-social behaviour surrounding it. The continued success of Operation Nemesis is based on the support of local communities and I would encourage people to come forward and tell us of issues so that we can work together to improve the quality of life for our communities.”
DCI Alan Mason, of Lincolnshire Police, said: “Lincolnshire Police, in collaboration with the East Midlands Special Operation Unit, are committed to tackling Serious and Organised Crime and the impact it has on our communities.
“We have shown the value of working in collaboration in the last twelve months and this piece of work with Staffordshire Police further emphasises our ability to target individuals wherever they reside.”
Governor of HMP North Sea Camp, Graham Batchford, said: "HMP North Sea Camp is not complacent about prisoners who breach their licence conditions. Today's outcome is proof that we will take every measure possible, including working close with the police, to ensure that those who fall foul of the terms of their temporary release are swiftly brought to justice."
Anyone with concerns about drug misuse is asked to contact Lincolnshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.