SOME of Blackpool’s most prolific drug dealers are today behind bars after police smashed a major drugs ring, taking £40,000 of cocaine off Blackpool streets.
Detectives today said the operation had targeted the “figureheads” of an organised crime syndicate who had been operating in Blackpool for years and will have put a massive dent in the resort’s drug supply chain.
Father and son Philip and Warren Elliott, from Grange Park, were among the six-strong criminal gang of who four were handed prison sentences totalling more than eight years.
Preston Crown Court heard how large quantities of drugs were prepared in a garage on Exchange Street in North Shore before being transferred to a “safe house” on Brooklyn Avenue in Layton from where they were sold to the public.
Det Insp Becky Smith, from Blackpool CID, said: “These people were the figureheads in an organised crime group who have been active in Blackpool for the last couple of years.
“Officers have been gathering intelligence over some time which has led to this seizure. It was a successful seizure which took a large amount of class A drugs off the streets of Blackpool.
“This is a really good result which will send out a message to other people we will target them and they will end up in prison.”
The court heard how Lee Garforth, 29, of Burwood Drive, Blackpool, had started supplying cocaine to try to clear a £3,000 drugs debt.
Garforth was handed two and a half years in jail after admitting being in possession of, with intent to supply, the killer drug.
Warren Elliott, 25, also admitted being in possession with intent to supply cocaine and was sentenced to a two-year jail term.
Their arrests came after officers stormed a garage on Exchange Street which had been transformed into the production hub for the drugs ring.
Almost pure cocaine was taken to the premises on a weekly basis to be cut up with a mixing agent to increase its quantity – before being driven to a safe house where the drugs were stored.
When officers raided the garage on Friday, July 16 last year they found a block of pure cocaine weighing half a kilogram and a hydraulic press.
The court heard Philip Elliott, 50, allowed his garage to be used “as a favour to Garforth” while Robert Vallance, 50, of George Street, central Blackpool, acted as a courier driving loose cocaine to the premises.
Philip Elliott pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of class A drugs and was sentenced to one year imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.
He was also ordered to do 240 hours of unpaid work and given a curfew between 9pm and 7am.
Vallance, who was paid £100 per trip for transporting the drugs to the garage every week for three months last year, was sentenced to 27 months for being concerned in the supply of class A drugs and production of cannabis.
Officers also raided a property on Brooklyn Avenue, the home of Catherine Ryden which was being used as the safe-house to store the drugs.
The 52-year-old pleaded guilty to allowing her property to be used in the supply of cocaine and was handed a six month prison term, suspended for 12 months, as well as 240 hours of unpaid work and a supervision order.
In a connected raid, Joey Hoban, 24, of Grenfell Avenue, Grange Park, was sentenced to six months in prison for production of cannabis after a seizure at a house on Meadow Crescent, Carleton.
He was also handed a four month jail term for dangerous driving after trying to avoid arrest.
Det Insp Smith added: “Drugs have a massive effect on the community - they have a devastating effect on drug users and their families.
“We couldn’t do this job without tip-offs from the community and it was intelligence given to us by members of the public which led us to this seizure.
“We’d like to thank anybody who gives us information about drug dealing and let them know that any intelligence they pass on will be used to try to get drugs off our streets.”