Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

The 'Dial-Adrug' Gangsters Who Serviced Manchester's Top Bars ; Jail for 'The Albanians' in Designer Gear Who Brought Professional Cocaine Trade to Deansgate and Locks

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

The 'Dial-Adrug' Gangsters Who Serviced Manchester's Top Bars ; Jail for 'The Albanians' in Designer Gear Who Brought Professional Cocaine Trade to Deansgate and Locks

Article excerpt

AN INTERNATIONAL crime syndicate who provided a high class dial- a-drug service to Manchester's clubland has been brought down by a massive police operation.

Twenty Albanian gangsters - who netted Pounds 250,000 selling top quality cocaine - have been snared and face deportation after a covert operation by detectives in the city's most exclusive bars.

Known in underworld circles as 'The Albanians', the network of dealers dressed in designer gear to blend in at venues at Deansgate, the nearby Locks and Spinning-fields.

They even targeted affluent revellers outside the luxury Beetham Tower - but ended up selling to a covert officer instead.

Based in lavishly-decorated apartments in the outskirts of the city centre, the dealers were recruited in Albania to operate in Manchester because of the city's thriving nightlife, officers believe. Having entered the country illegally, gang members used fake Italian and Greek passports to evade detection. They would offer to people on the street and in bars, as well as running a 24/ 7 'dial-a-drug' line which surprised officers with its speed and professionalism.

Police believe they worked with Manchester's more established gangs - but were arming themselves with guns in case of conflict.

The authorities will now seek to claw back some of the cash made from their racket using the Proceeds of Crime Act.

It's understood around Pounds 125,000 in assets is recoverable - much of it in cash seized on raids on their addresses.

Codenamed Operation Cortez, GMP's crackdown is the first-ever 'test purchase' operation in the city centre. Test purchase operations involve police posing as drug users to build cases against dealers.

Previous operations have concentrated on pushers selling crack and heroin to addicts in deprived areas, but this campaign involved dealers targeting upwardly mobile recreational users.

The operation climaxed with dawn raids in February last year at 17 addresses across North and South Manchester, Salford, Trafford and North Wales. …

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