Seventeen gang members have been jailed for 117 years after undercover police made Britain’s biggest land based cocaine siezure in a dramatic swoop on the M6.
Helicopter footage shows the moment drug kingpin Jamie Simpson, 31, was arrested on the motorway near Knutsford, Cheshire, after police vehicles surrounded his Ford Transit.
Officers found 186 kilos of high purity cocaine worth an estimated £20million, hidden under the floor of the van, as well as in the passenger seat and stuffed inside boxes.
The raid was part of a covert police investigation called Operation Dreadnought into Warrington based organised crime groups lead by Simpson and Jamie Oldroyd.
Cheshire Police said the ‘gangster lifestyles’ led by the two ringleaders and gang members led to their arrests, as they flaunted their wealth.
Detectives said the gang led ‘cash rich’ lives and drove fast, high-powered cars – with Oldroyd driving 17 different cars during the 14 months he was under surveillance.
On the video filmed on a phone showed Oldroyd and another gang member counting out an estimated £150,000 in cash on a coffee table where Rolex watches were seen.
Simpson was jailed for 11 years and six months for conspiracy to supply cocaine in April, but his sentence can only now be reported as restrictions imposed until the end of another trial have been lifted.
Cheshire Police said Simpson and associates Andrew Daniels, 41, Clare Smith, 36, and Dean Brettle, 37, had travelled to Kent and picked up the consignment from Rochester Pier, where it is believed to have come in from Europe.
The three gang members were also jailed for conspiracy to supply cocaine, with Daniels sentenced to eight years and six months, Smith to eight years and nine months and Brettle to six years.
Police said Simpson’s dealing came to light as they carried out surveillance on the gang run by Oldroyd, 29, who was jailed in May for 14 years and three months for conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Detective Chief Inspector Mike Evans, from Cheshire Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said Oldroyd was running a nationwide drugs operation and would sometimes work with Simpson and his gang to acquire cocaine.
Mr Evans said: ‘We know the reach of this was right across the UK essentially, due to the amounts involved.’
Mr Evans said it was the gang’s extravagant lifestyles which led to their arrests.
‘They were carefree, there was an arrogance to them and they led a bit of a gangster lifestyle.
It’s really good that the community has fed us the intelligence that’s allowed us to start this operation, so if you have got people in your community who are living beyond their means and you suspect their involvement in drugs then ring Crimestoppers or ring police and let us act on that information.’