Three men from Liverpool have been sentenced to a total of 33 years for their involvement in the supply of controlled drugs on an industrial scale across the country.
Following an investigation spanning several years, detectives from Operation Sombrero gathered evidence that showed the organised crime group (OCG) were involved in the supply of at least 100kgs of Class A drugs and over 30kgs of Class B drugs.
The evidence was unearthed as part of an Encrochat enquiry into the national distribution of Class A drugs, including cocaine, heroin and amphetamine.
Over a three month period, police were able to seize 84kgs of heroin – the largest single seizure by Merseyside Police in a number of years – as well as 22kgs of amphetamine, 500g of cocaine, 16kg each of heroin and cocaine and 6kg of Class B drugs.
Three men were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on Friday 9 December after pleading guilty to multiple drugs offences.
John McTigue, 41, of Toxteth, has been sentenced to 14 years and eight months for conspiracy to supply heroin, crack cocaine and amphetamine.
Leroy Kassim, 50, of Liverpool, has been sentenced to ten years and eight months for conspiracy to supply heroin.
Terence Shields, 37, of Liverpool, has been sentenced to seven years and eight months for conspiracy to supply cocaine and amphetamine and dangerous driving. He has also been banned from driving for four years and 10 months.
McTigue, who was linked to the Encrochat handle ‘Maroonrose’, was involved in the supply of Class A drugs throughout the country over several years which culminated in his arrest in February this year when he was in possession of 84kg of heroin with a street value of between £3- £5million.
He was given the nickname ‘Johnny Cash’ by his criminal associates due to his love of money made from criminality.
Kassim, who was a known associate of McTigue, was also arrested in February of this year.
Shields was arrested in possession of 22kg of amphetamine and 500g of cocaine found in his vehicle, having attempted to evade police.
It was found that Shields had made six journeys couriering drugs to the south of England.
Detective Inspector Louise Hooley said, “This was a huge operation which saw vast quantities of Class A and B drugs produced and distributed across the whole of the country on an industrial scale.
“Each of those sentenced took part in the business for significant financial gain and although they all played different roles and were involved to differing degrees they were all aware of the scale of the operation.
“We know the destruction that drug dealing brings to our communities. Those involved in the supply of drugs have no regard for the lives they affect and the harm they can cause, and we are committed to pursuing those involved in serious and organised crime and bringing them to justice.
“Today’s sentences shows the level of our commitment and how seriously this type of activity is viewed by the courts. I am delighted that these sentences will see dangerous people removed from the streets of Merseyside for a considerable period of time and I hope that our communities feel reassured that we are continuing to take positive action and support us in our efforts.
“We are constantly working with other forces and partners to target offenders and take action, and information from our communities plays a vital part in this. I would like to urge anyone with information on criminality in your area to please come forward so we can act upon it.”
Senior Crown Prosecutor Maria Corr, of CPS Mersey Cheshire’s Complex Casework Unit, said, “These men were heavily involved in a conspiracy to supply millions of pounds of drugs.
“McTigue and Kassim were known to love the high life and revelled in the money they were able to make from the dangerous and illegal world of drug dealing.
“Shields was a trusted associate and all three men worked together to distribute drugs that can devastate lives and communities.
“But the career span of a drug dealer is notoriously short and the authorities caught up with them. The drugs that McTigue and Kassim were found with on 11 February were worth a staggering amount of money – the largest single haul seized by police on Merseyside.
“Now they are all in jail – a long way from the lavish lifestyle that they pursued. This has been a complicated case and the Crown Prosecution Service would like to thank Merseyside Police for their help in bringing these three men to justice.”
If you have information on the storage of weapons or use of drugs, please contact @MerPolCC, or 101. Alternatively, you can pass information to the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.