Manchester

Six jailed for importing cocaine from Germany

Peter Hannigan, Phillip Grange and John Morris
Image caption Peter Hannigan (left) was the "fixer" of the operation

Six men have been jailed for conspiring to import £14m worth of class A drugs into the UK.

The gang transported 105kg of cocaine from Germany, packing it into furniture and boxes addressed to fictitious military personnel.

Cumbria Police seized the haul when it went through Harwich Docks in 2008.

The men, from Cumbria, Lancashire and Nottingham, were found guilty after a trial at Manchester Crown Court and jailed for a total of 110 years.

Peter Michael Hannigan, 49, from Howe Gardens, Kendal, Cumbria, was described as the "fixer" of the operation and was sentenced to 22 years in jail.

Mark Seel Neville, 41, of no fixed abode, was found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine and conspiracy to supply amphetamines and was jailed for 26 years.

Darren James Michael Morris, 32, of Wesham Hall Road, Kirkham, Preston, and Simon John Finlay, 32, of Park Lane, Wesham, Preston, were both found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine. Each was jailed for 13 years.

Phillip Grange, 54, of Park Valley, Nottingham and Mark Anthony McGovern, 47, of Ingleway Avenue, Blackpool, Lancashire, were both found guilty of the same charge and each jailed for 18 years.

Image caption The men were caught in a Cumbria Police operation

A seventh man, John Morris, 52, of Chapel Walks, Kirkham, Lancashire, previously pleaded guilty to the offence. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Henry Joseph Mooney, 47, of Stockbridge Road, Padiham, Burnley, was cleared of conspiracy to import cocaine.

Det Ch Insp Jeff Ashton, from Cumbria Police, said after the trial ended: "When our investigations began, this group was identified as the number one target for Cumbria Constabulary's Serious and Organised Crime Unit.

"The defendants that were found guilty today had connections to the higher echelons of the drug-trafficking world, with national and international connections, and the impact of these convictions cannot be underestimated."

He added: "They undoubtedly planned to bring cocaine to the North West of England in significant quantities, which would have brought with it the associated problems of acquisitive crime."

Joanne Cunliffe, Crown Advocate from CPS Lancashire and Cumbria Complex Casework Unit, said: "Thanks to the police investigation the drugs did not reach their intended destinations and together we have ensured that these men could not evade justice.

"These convictions today send a clear message that tackling drug crime is a priority for the CPS and police and we will work tirelessly to prosecute anyone involved in smuggling or dealing in drugs."

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