Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

'Director' of Drugs Operation Jailed for Six Years

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

'Director' of Drugs Operation Jailed for Six Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Gareth Lightfoot Court Reporter gareth.lightfoot@eveninggazette.co.uk

A TEESSIDE man who "directed operations" in a cross-country drug enterprise is behind bars for six years today.

Benjamin Lucas, 36, from Middlesbrough, played a key role in a drugs ring transporting kilos of amphetamines across the UK.

He used more than 20 "dirty phones" for drug dealing in a doomed attempt to cover his tracks, Teesside Crown Court heard. He was linked to members of a drugs gang which is serving a total of more than 20 years in prison.

Judge Peter Armstrong jailed him for six years, saying he played "if not a leading role, certainly on the brink of it".

He added: "This was done for business purposes. You weren't in it just for the fun of it. This was a commercial operation. It is substantial dealing."

The gang was under surveillance by police as drugs were transported from Northumberland to Liverpool on November 24, 2011.

"It is clear to me from the evidence that you were the link between them," Judge Armstrong told Lucas. "You had the contact in Liverpool and were directing operations."

About two weeks later, police seized 10kg of amphetamine worth PS80,000 to PS100,000.

Officers found the haul when they stopped a car on the A1(M) in the Doncaster area on December 6. The consignment was intercepted en route from Bulkington, Warwickshire. Prosecutor Rupert Doswell said this was just a "snapshot" of a larger conspiracy in which Lucas played an "orchestrating role" for large financial gain.

He said a car-dealing business was used as a cover for the drugs ring.

Lucas took a three-day train trip to Portugal in March 2012, as police were investigating his pivotal role in the plot.

He stayed there for nine months. The Crown said some PS17,500 was transferred to him abroad, allegedly from drugs supply.

He was arrested in January this year, days after he flew home for Christmas.

The judge said Lucas had contacts and connections both in Liverpool and his original home town of Cramlington, Northumberland, to play his part.

He said there was evidence that Lucas used "20-odd" phones or numbers over six months, frequently getting rid of "dirty phones" used in drug dealing to try to avoid detection. …

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