West and south Wales cocaine gang given jail terms

Drugs gang members
Image caption Jailed: Members of the gang who were given jail terms at Swansea Crown Court

Members of a drugs gang supplying cocaine from Liverpool to west and south Wales have been given jail terms.

The undercover operation by Dyfed-Powys Police, which included bugging the gang's phones, was praised by the judge at Swansea Crown Court.

Jamie Evans, 42, from St Clears, Carmarthenshire, described as a family man with a Welsh cap in water polo, was said to be the "lynchpin" of the west Wales part of the drugs ring.

He was jailed for eight years.

Members of the gang, referred to as the "Liverpool Connection", smuggled large amounts of cocaine to places like Carmarthen, Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock and the Rhondda.

Sentencing them, Judge Paul Thomas said: "People like you who decide to get involved in dealing with large quantities of cocaine do so in the knowledge that if caught they will get long sentences in jail.

"You all took a calculated risk and now that you have lost that particular gamble you will pay the price."

He said the police inquiry, Operation Redcliff, was "professional and meticulous", leading to arrests in April 2014 when cocaine worth £50,000 was seized in west Wales.

Image copyright Dyfed-Powys Police
Image caption Jamie Evans was described as the "lynchpin" of the west Wales part of the drugs operation

John Underwood, 30, from Prescott, Merseyside, who was caught with thousands of pounds worth of cocaine in a van in Cwmgwili, Carmarthen, in September 2012 - but who carried on supplying drugs from Liverpool after being jailed for 18 months - was also given an eight-year sentence.

Peter Cummins, 29, from Whiston, Merseyside, was given six and a half years for his "significant role".

Labourer Jenkin Davies, 55, from Cynwyl Elfed, Carmarthenshire, was given five and a half years for his role as Evans's "right hand man".

Richard Houghton, 32, from St Helens, Merseyside, received four and a half years for his role as a drugs courier.

David Campbell, 58, from Birkenhead, Merseyside, was jailed for three years. He was caught with cocaine worth £50,000.

Greg Mackenzie, 28, of Blaenwaun, Carmarthenshire, was jailed for four years and John Fitzgerald, 44, from Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, got four and a half years.

Craig Cann, 34, from Porth, Rhondda Cynon Taff, and Ross Hutchings, 25, of Ton Pentre, Rhondda Cynon Taff, described by Judge Thomas as being "at the Rhondda Valley end of the operation" were each jailed for three years.

'Money laundering'

Thomas Charles Salmon, 33, from Llanmill, Pembrokeshire, was jailed for two years and eight months, and Emanuel Handford, 23, from Carmarthen, received a jail term of two years and four months.

They had all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Daniel Gila, 26, from Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, received a five-year term after being found guilty of the charge following a Swansea Crown Court trial.

Rebecca Underwood, 28, from Whiston, Merseyside, was jailed for 16 weeks, suspended for 12 months for laundering the gang's money.

Mark Tinsley, 32, from Prescott, was ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work for the community for money laundering.

Both, said Judge Thomas, had provided the gang with a valuable service by allowing "large amounts of money" to pass through their bank accounts.

Adam Evans, 27, from Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, received a nine-month sentence suspended for a year for the lesser charge of being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

And Louise Thornton, 27, from Lampeter Velfrey, Pembrokeshire, was given 16 months suspended for a year with both being given unpaid work orders.

After the hearing, Det Insp Huw Davies, from Dyfed-Powys Police said the sentences send a "clear signal out to the criminal fraternity that drug offences will not be tolerated in the Dyfed-Powys area and officers will do their utmost to bring cases to court".

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