THE first seven members of a drugs gang which brought cannabis and cocaine onto the streets of Flintshire have been jailed.

During the first day of sentencing in respect of defendants connected to a police initiative called Operation Blue Cobalt, prosecuting barrister Andrew Jones outlined the scale of the crimes.

The offences collectively dated from December 2019 to April 2021, and saw a "network of distinctive but linked organised crime groups" combining to become a "formidable drugs consortium."

Based on the substances seized and communications analysed, drugs experts at North Wales Police estimated that a year's worth of drug supply at the scale the gang was operating on could have netted them up to £6million or more.

Judge Timothy Petts said while it would never be possible to pinpoint exactly what quantity of money and drugs had been involved, the drugs conspiracy had in fact run for around 17 months, meaning the figures estimated could have been even higher.

A pair of Liverpool men were first in the dock for their part in the enterprise - having both been convicted of conspiracy to supply the class A and B drugs.

The Leader: Darren Nelson. Image: North Wales PoliceDarren Nelson. Image: North Wales Police

Mr Jones told the court that Darren Nelson, aged 32 and of Whitfield Road, had been an "upstream supplier" of the substances - which were procured on an "industrial scale" - and was to be sentenced for his part in drugs offences in both Liverpool and North Wales.

Robert Wood, aged 58 and of Stanfordham Drive in Liverpool, was responsible for the "adulteration and packaging" of the drugs under Nelson's direction.

He also made exchanges of drugs for cash with North Wales-based members of the operation.

Oliver Cook, defending Nelson, told the court his client had not been directly communicating with those bringing the drugs into the UK.

He said Nelson had "another side to him," describing him as a family man who had expressed genuine remorse for his actions.

The Leader: Robert Wood. Image: North Wales PoliceRobert Wood. Image: North Wales Police

Charles Lander, defending Wood, said his client had sought to "better himself" during his time in prison, and had completed qualifications.
He had "worked hard and industriously" up to the age of 55, but had developed a cocaine addiction.

Darren Nelson received a total of 15 years and nine months imprisonment, while Robert Wood received a total of nine years 11 months imprisonment.

The head of the Flintshire side, 26-year-old Thomas Davies of Glan y Don in Holywell, is to be sentenced on Wednesday.

Andrew Jones told the court how he was imprisoned for a large part of the group's activities.

The Leader: Dawn Davies. Image: North Wales PoliceDawn Davies. Image: North Wales Police

But he managed to maintain his business from his cell at HMP Berwyn, relying on the assistance of 26-year-old friend Sophie Roberts, of The Close in Greenfield, and his 47-year-old mother Dawn Davies of Nant y Coed in Holywell.

The two had responsibility for managing and collecting money, with Roberts liaising with others to ensure the supply of drugs met the enterprise's demand.

Roberts also assisted in smuggling drugs into HMP Berwyn.
Maria Masselis, defending Dawn Davies, said: "She accepts involvement with the money but not physical involvement with the drugs.

"She has suffered over a long period of time with mental health difficulties and has taken positive steps in custody.

The Leader: Sophie Roberts. Image: North Wales PoliceSophie Roberts. Image: North Wales Police

"At the age of 47, she has learned to read and write - something she is rightly proud of.

"She's in counselling as a result of the main events of trauma she's been subjected to in her life."

Philip Clemo, defending Roberts, said since the lifting of some pandemic restrictions at HMP Styal she had become a peer mentor.

"She is someone who is a constructive member of the prison community," he added.

"She was very much being directed by the wishes of Mr Davies, particularly during his incarceration."

Judge Timothy Petts jailed Dawn Davies for nine years and six months for her involvement in the conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis.

Roberts received a sentence of 10 years and four months.

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The Leader: Thomas Wilson. Image: North Wales PoliceThomas Wilson. Image: North Wales Police

Thomas Wilson, aged 32 and of Yr Hen Ysgol in Greenfield, was a street dealer based in the Flintshire crime structure, the court heard.

He was described as a "trusted lieutenant" in the gang and would manage drug dealers on the chain.

John Wyn Williams, defending Wilson, said his client had the "good sense" to plead guilty to his part in the scheme - telling the court his had been a lesser role by comparison to others involved.

He said the defendant had been making good steps in prison to address his own drug use.

For his involvement in the conspiracy, Judge Petts jailed Wilson for eight years and three months.

The Leader: Matthew Forrester. Image: North Wales PoliceMatthew Forrester. Image: North Wales Police

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Matthew Forrester, aged 27 and of Rhodfa Wenlo in Greenfield, was concerned in the supply of cannabis and cocaine - but had not been charged with the more serious offence of being involved in the overall conspiracy.

He was a street dealer of both substances, Judge Petts said, handing him a custodial sentence of three years and two months.

Matthew Curtis, defending Forrester, said his client had been involved in the supply of drugs at a low level and that he was a user at the time.

His arrest had come as a "wake-up call" he added, describing him otherwise as hard working, caring and a man who has the support of family members.

The Leader: Daniel Crossley. Image: North Wales PoliceDaniel Crossley. Image: North Wales Police

Daniel Crossley, aged 36 and of Francis Avenue in Rhyl, had started out in a significant role which had become a leading one as thee enterprise continued.

Simon Killeen, defending Crossley, told the court his client's remorse for his involvement had been reflected in his early guilty plea.

Judge Petts jailed Crossley for 10 years for his involvement in the conspiracy.

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