Police unravelled complex drugs network

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A long and complex police investigation followed the activities of the drugs gang which has led to 12 people being convicted of drugs offences.

Though some of the conspirators pleaded guilty to their part in the production and supply of amphetamine and supply of cocaine across the country, an eight-week trial at Nottingham Crown Court saw the other members convicted.

The plot began to unravel in July last year when a van was stopped on the A1 near Doncaster, in South Yorkshire, containing ten kilos of amphetamine, worth an estimated £227,000.

The resultant investigation linked the drugs to the Protein Masters store in Sutton, and a warrant was executed at the shop a few weeks later.

Officers from Nottinghamshire Police and the East Midlands Special Operations Unit discovered over 7kg of a substance in residue form which contained amphetamine in buckets, drains and toilets within Protein Masters.

Also recovered was a vacuum packing machine and mixing tools, similar to those used in the construction industry.

Arrested at the scene were Craig Donnelly and Daniel Robinson, who had been trying to dispose of the drugs when they heard police.

A further three arrests followed - including that of Ben Mullins and Anthony Donnelly, the owner of Protein Masters, and identified during sentencing by the judge as the ‘ringleader’ of the amphetamine operation - at other locations in Nottinghamshire.

In November 2013, there were two further incidents involving associates of Mullins.

Firstly, Michael Lawrence, of Stanton Hill, was arrested when the car he was travelling from Humberside in with girlfriend Catherine Harpham - having met fellow defendant Paul Critchlow - was stopped on the A1 by police officers, who found 3kg of high purity cocaine worth £600,000.

On 29th November, Derbyshire Police stopped a car being driven by Andrew Brimble in Pinxton. Inside was a haul of amphetamines weighing 67kg and valued at £1.3m.

It was shown by the prosecution that these drugs had been passed on to Brimble on behalf of Mullins and others.

East Midlands Special Operations Unit detectives established links to a number of other individuals who had been in contact with Mullins and those who had already been arrested in connection with the conspiracy.

The officers then worked with colleagues in the Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Humberside, Greater Manchester and Merseyside to make further arrests.

Det Chief Insp Alan Mason said: “This case demonstrates the complexity of drugs supply conspiracies which operate through a network of associates, some of whom may be located in different parts of the country, let alone the region.

“The number of suspects involved also gives a clue as to the level of detail the officers investigating the case had to uncover from their enquiries in order to piece together a successful prosecution case.

“The East Midlands forces are determined to dismantle criminal groups which supply drugs to and within our region, and through EMSOU the forces have been targeting organised crime for a number of years now.

“This is the third case of its kind to be concluded at court this month and it is very satisfying to know that in just a matter of a few days more than 30 determined criminals from across the region who attempted to bring drugs into our communities have now been put behind bars.”

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