How an undercover cop in Mansfield helped bring down Colin Gunn’s drugs empire

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A Notts detective who went undercover in Mansfield to help bring down notorious gangster Colin Gunn’s drug empire has revealed how a knife was held at his groin to see if he could be trusted.

Neil Woods, a former undercover drugs detective, was embedded for six months in Mansfield working alongside one of Gunn’s top men, known as ‘the lieutenant’.

He was featured in a documentary about the criminal: ‘Murder By The Sea’ about Colin Gunn and the killing of the Stirlands on CBS Reality on Monday.

He said “everyone was completely terrified” of Gunn and that cops who crossed him were given a stark and violent warning that was fed through the ranks.

The warning was, “If Gunn ever caught an undercover cop he would be snatched off the street and tortured to death. He did not know me, but I knew that message was meant for me.”

Colin Gunn, his brother David and others started running criminal operations in Bestwood in the 1990s.

It was when he was recruiting drug dealers that Detective Superintendent Woods would work his way into the cartel, later leading to what he said was “close to 90 arrests.”

Woods was tasked with building intelligence around Gunn’s drug associates, who were peddling crack cocaine and heroin onto the streets of Nottingham.

He said: “The lieutenant interrogated me with a knife pressed against my groin to question me and test me about my cover story. It was intimidation. Everyone was completely terrified of Gunn.”

“In terms of his reputation he was very good at building it up. The most successful gangster is the one that is the most intimidating. It is the scary ones who survive.”

Gunn was later given 35 years for conspiracy to murder in connection with the killing of two innocent people, Joan and John Stirland.

They were gunned down on the Lincolnshire coast in August 2004.

Their shooting was in revenge for the death of Jamie Gunn, Colin Gunn’s 19-year-old nephew, who had died just a few days before.

He had gone on a downward spiral following the death of his best friend Marvyn Bradshaw, who was shot by Mrs Stirland’s son.