Merseyside brothers jailed for drugs empire

Peter and Stephen Clarke
Image caption Peter and Stephen Clarke smuggled drugs across North West England and Northern Ireland

Two brothers who ran a major drugs empire, had a "frightening stash" of guns and daggers, a court heard.

Ex-soldier Peter Clarke was jailed for 16 years and his brother Stephen, who ran a security firm, got 10 years six months.

The pair, admitted smuggling £4m worth of cocaine and cannabis from Merseyside to Northern Ireland.

Ten other men, who admitted similar crimes were also sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court.

Police could not put a value on the drugs empire.

Peter Clarke, 35, formerly of Tarleton, and Stephen Clarke, 45, of Westerdale Drive, Banks, Southport, who were originally from Netherley, Liverpool, were arrested after their movements were tracked in an investigation from September 2011 to December 2012 by Titan, the North West Regional Crime Squad.

Police said it became "obvious that Clarke was living beyond his means".

Peter Clarke admitted firearms charges. Stephen was also sentenced for grievous bodily harm.

'Fall from grace'

Sentencing Peter Clarke, Judge Andrew Wolman described his "long fall from grace" following a fine army record.

The court was told how some of their co-conspirators masqueraded as legitimate businessmen working at window blind salesmen and scuba diving instructors in order to move large quantities of drugs and cash around the North-West and over to Northern Ireland.

The gang were found to have stored an arsenal of guns and other weapons at a lock-up garage in Ainsdale, Merseyside.

Image caption Weapons were found in a lock up

Peter Clarke's right hand man and friend Gordon Fisk, 39, of Grovewood Gardens, Whiston, was jailed for nine-and-a-half years.

Another gang member Paul Lawler, 35, also of Westerdale Drive, Banks, rented premises in Southport for use as a cannabis factory and was jailed for 10 years.

Det Supt Jason Hudson, head of operations at Titan said: "The Clarke brothers were sophisticated and experienced criminals who would go to great lengths to protect their drug dealing empire from both the police and their rivals.

"Our investigation unearthed a terrifying array of weapons, including semi-automatic firearms, which were used to intimidate and strike fear into the hearts of their rivals and enemies."

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