Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Gang sentenced in 'biggest drugs' probe in Southampton

gang leaders Image copyright Hampshire Constabulary
Image caption Police said Anthony Ainsley (left), Gerrard Quinn (centre) and Barry Williams (right) were the leaders of a gang behind a "buoyant" drugs market in Southampton

Six people have been sentenced at the end of what Hampshire police described as its biggest ever drugs inquiry.

They were part of a Manchester-based gang which the force said controlled most of the heroin and cocaine trade in Southampton.

The six received sentences ranging from suspended jail terms to five-and-a-half years in prison.

In May, the gang's three leaders were sentenced to between nine and 12 years.

The gang's leaders were:

  • Anthony Ainsley, 37, of Gloucester Road, Manchester - jailed for 10 years
  • Gerrard Quinn, 25, formerly of Kilton Walk, Manchester - jailed for 12 years
  • Barry Williams, 25, of Fold Street, Manchester - jailed for nine years

All three gang leaders were convicted of two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and one count of money laundering.

Judge Peter Ralls QC told Southampton Crown Court the trio ran a "sophisticated and highly organised drug network".

Image copyright Hampshire Constabulary
Image caption Police said there was a "big market" for heroin and cocaine in Hampshire, with arrests being made "every month" and drugs and firearms being seized

Police said the group known as the Manchester Boys or Manks were thought to have controlled two-thirds of the heroin and cocaine market in Southampton, as well as establishing supply lines in Winchester and Brighton.

Over a period of 14 months, couriers made dozens of runs between Manchester and Southampton, exchanging drugs and cash at rendezvous points in the Midlands.

Hampshire Constabulary said 30 people had been convicted as part of Operation Buntline - the first time it had taken out an entire drugs network from top to bottom.

Det Ch Insp Ellie Hurd said: "There is a big market for class A drugs in certain parts of Hampshire.

"Every month we are arresting people involved in the supply of drugs and we are seizing cash, drugs and sometimes firearms."

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