Drug gang jailed for major crack and heroin racket in Scarborough
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The gang, spearheaded by drug kingpins from Liverpool, recruited addicts in Scarborough to be street dealers or allow their homes to be used as drug-dealing bases, York Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Timothy Jacobs said cash was transferred into the accounts of the four lead figures in the conspiracy including Liverpudlian Gerrard Parkins, 26, Anthony Wright, 31, Jake Myers, 23, and 28- year-old Lee Hayes.
“They were all involved in the movement of drugs from Liverpool, across North Yorkshire, to York and Scarborough,” added the prosecuting barrister.
The foot soldiers involved in dealing to users included Leel Johnstone, Christopher Watt, Kelly Hill and Anthony Winton.
Former Scarborough woman Samantha Milner and Jody Edwards allowed their homes in the town to be used for drug-dealing.
Mr Jacobs said the Liverpool gang moved into rural North Yorkshire to avoid intense police scrutiny in bigger cities and took over the homes of drug users, a practice known as “cuckooing”.
But the county’s police force was soon on their tail and ready to smash their illicit trade.
Although the gang was never found with any drugs, the prosecution said that mobile-phone and accounts data gathered by police showed that profits would have been “significant”.
Mr Jacobs cited the vast sums of money, namely £23,000, passing into ringmaster Gerrard Parkins’s account as indicative of the huge profits that the operation yielded between January and October 2019.
He said there were at least 10 people involved in the conspiracy which was run on at least three “dealer lines” in Scarborough.
There were other dealer lines in York and Norwich.
The gang would send out block or broadcast messages to large numbers of customers in each of these areas, letting them know that the “cupboard is stocked and that drugs are available for sale”.
All defendants admitted conspiring to supply heroin and crack cocaine and Parkins, Hayes and Myers also admitted possessing criminal cash.
Kelly Hill, 39, also admitted a separate County Lines drug conspiracy between September 2018 and May 2019 between Sheffield and York.
In the Scarborough operation, her role was street dealing and “providing accommodation and transport for the defendants from Liverpool”.
She made arrangements with Jody Edwards for a flat or “safe house” to be made available for the Liverpool gang.
Most of the defendants were sentenced on Monday but the Scarborough News had to delay reports because Hayes was due to face trial on the conspiracy charge.
However, he admitted two counts of conspiring to supply Class A drugs today (Friday, November 30) and was sentenced along with co-conspirator Watt.
Parkins, described as “the top of the tree” in the Scarborough and York drug rackets, had previous convictions for supplying cocaine.
Myers, 23, received a three-year jail sentence as recently as last week at Exeter Crown Court for supplying drugs, which involved 20 other people.
Johnstone, 42, claimed his involvement in the conspiracy began and ended in June 2019 and that he didn’t make any money.
The prosecution accepted this basis of plea.
Johnstone, who said he was “paid in drugs”, had previous convictions for shoplifting.
He was a long-standing drug user.
Winton, 42, a drug addict, claimed he was merely a driver for the gang after being recruited by the Liverpool outfit.
He had driven his dealer to Liverpool and back on three occasions and was paid £200 each time.
He used the money to “feed his habit for a single day”.
Watt, 39, who acted as a street dealer in Scarborough and operated the dealer line, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years in October 2021 for a previous Class A drugs racket.
Those offences occurred after his arrest for the Scarborough conspiracy.
Milner, 49, a drug addict then living in Scarborough but now of Berry Brow, Huddersfield, said she had allowed her home to be used as a dealing base to repay debts to her drug masters.
The gang would give her drugs in return for giving up her premises.
In April, Milner was given an 18-month community order with a six-month drug-rehabilitation programme for allowing her flat to be used as a dealer base in a separate County Lines conspiracy to supply heroin and crack in Scarborough.
For the new offences, judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, jailed her for 20 months.
Hill, of Lucas Avenue, York, received a three-year prison sentence.
Myers, of no fixed address, was jailed for three years and nine months, consecutive to the sentence he was currently serving.
Johnstone, of Burton Green, York, was jailed for 22 months.
Edwards, 40, of Hinderwell Road, Scarborough, and Winton, of Eastborough, each received a two-year suspended prison sentence.
Hayes, 28, from Liverpool but of no fixed address, was today jailed for three years, which will run consecutive to a prison sentence of three years and three months he received at Norwich Crown Court in February, also for supplying heroin and crack cocaine.
Watt, of no fixed address, was jailed for two years and nine months, a reduced sentence due to mitigating factors but which will run consecutive to the prison term he is already serving.
Parkins and Wright, 31, will be sentenced in January.
PC Dave Williamson, from North Yorkshire Police’s Intelligence Unit, said: “This was a significant County Lines drug-dealing conspiracy running between Liverpool, York and Scarborough.
“We worked hard to dismantle it piece by piece and it is pleasing that those involved have been brought to justice.”
“Together with our community partners, we are doing everything in our power to clamp down hard on drug-related crime.
"We are more determined than ever to put a stop to the misery and heartache it creates.”