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Group of seven behind bars over plot to fill town with heroin and crack cocaine



Seven people have been locked up for a total of 64 years for their part in a plot to fill a town with heroin and crack cocaine worth £745,000.

Police launched an operation, entitled Operation Lancelot, to catch the conspirators for a crime which could wreak “misery” on a number of communities, a judge said. On March 16, the first seven of the 19 individuals were jailed at court for conspiring to supply crack cocaine and heroin between April 12, 2020, and October 14, 2020.

Prosecutor Sion ap Mihangel said that the operation using a so-called graft phone to sell Class A drugs over 24 weeks was run like a business. It generated large sums of cash, and one defendant had high value watches, jewellery and designer clothing.

Wales Online reports that members of the same family were drawn into the operation and it became part of family life, including for young children, Caernarfon Crown Court heard.

The prosecutor said that people at the top sourced the heroin and crack cocaine in Liverpool, couriers transported the drugs into North Wales and that there was “effectively” an area manager, Jake Luke Riley, aged 25, who supervised the street dealers.

Using two main addresses in Y Wern and Gwenfro in Caia Park as bases, bulk messages would be sent out on a graft phone advertising sales of drugs and locations for deals to be made. It was grafted onto eight different handsets using five different SIM cards.

In total, police found 27,450 “events” over those 24 weeks in 2020, and detectives launched Operation Lancelot using covert surveillance cameras. On July 1, 2020, officers stopped a Peugeot van between Liverpool and Wrexham. Its occupants, James Royce and Matthew Royce, were inside and claimed to be on a “night fishing” trip.

Angling gear was in the van but it looked “unused”, and further inspections revealed that a green folding chair’s plastic lining contained bags of heroin and crack cocaine. In all, there were drugs worth £61,970 in that single vehicle. It was one of eight such journeys across the border and back.

Brothers James William Royce, 30, of Portal Avenue, and Matthew Philip Royce, 31, of Tryweryn Place, both Wrexham, are to be sentenced soon. But the gang leader was Todd Connor Brown, Caernarfon Crown Court heard. He arranged to buy the drugs from “wholesalers” in Liverpool and directed 18 co-defendants to distribute and sell them.

Judge Nicola Saffman told him: “You were clearly at the heart of the conspiracy. Fellow gang members were “repeatedly threatened with being reported to you if they were ‘under performing’.” The judge said drug dealing blighted communities.

Today, the first seven of the 19 offenders were jailed for conspiring to supply heroin and crack cocaine from April to October, 2020.

  • The judge jailed Todd Connor Brown, 26, of Hazel Grove, Wrexham, his brother Ben William Brown, 32, of East Avenue, Wrexham, and Jake Luke Rowley, 25, of Bryn Offa, Wrexham, all for 11 years and three months for each charge, both to run concurrently.
  • Kim Michelle Williams, 48, of no fixed address, was jailed for eight years and three months for each offence, both terms to run concurrently.

  • Zoe Platt, 29, of Grango Lane, Ponciau, was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for the same offences.

  • Her sister Tia Platt, 21, of Gwenfro, Wrexham, was put behind bars for six years and nine months, as was Bradley Sandford, 25, of Glan Gors, Wrexham. All of today’s defendants are due to serve half their terms in custody and half on licence.

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