BBC News

Huyton convict ran drugs and guns gang from prison cell

image captionMcIntyre used mobile phone 6,000 times from prison in three months

A convicted robber who ran a drugs and firearms empire from his prison cell has been jailed for 23 years.

Andrew McIntyre, 28, from Huyton, used mobile phones smuggled into prison to direct heroin, crack cocaine and guns around Merseyside and into Scotland.

He made about 6,000 calls or texts in one three-month period, police said.

McIntyre admitted a number of firearms and drugs conspiracy charges and was sentenced alongside eight other people at Liverpool Crown Court on Friday.

Merseyside Police's specialist Matrix team launched an operation after a series of shootings in 2008.

The police team began investigating the Baker's Green Boys, named after the Huyton estate where members ran the operation, and made a series of seizures of drugs and firearms.

One uzi machine gun seized during the operation was linked to three separate shootings in Huyton. Other firearms seized included pre-World War I revolvers.

Police recovered drugs worth in excess of £1m, 12 firearms, more than 300 rounds of ammunition, £165,000 in cash and stolen property worth an estimated £110,000.

McIntyre, of Nylands Road, was convicted of conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine, conspiracy to possess prohibited firearms and conspiracy to sell or transfer prohibited firearms.

Since members of the gang we taken into custody, firearm discharges in the area have reduced by about 30%, Merseyside Police said.

Det Ch Supt Tony Doherty, who heads the Matrix unit, said the prison service had worked "really hard" to keep phones out of prisons.

"On a number of occasions he had phones taken off him, he was put into segregation to try and stop him using them," he said.

"But he was a very resourceful man and he managed to get hold of further phones and use them for the same criminal purposes."