Saturday, 5 April 2008

Expat drug gang drove super-charged luxury Jaguars, Audis and BMWs and had villas in the Spanish sun.

14:53 |

“Ian Moffatt was arrested by us on the Tarmac at Heathrow as he came back from one of numerous trips to Spain.”Drug gang that ran a multi-million pound drug racket in Scotland were today beginning jail sentences totalling more than 100 years.The 17-strong gang sent £40,000 worth of drugs to Glasgow every week for two years.The racket was run by husband and wife Christopher and Sharon Pimblett from their St Helens home.
The couple, who have since divorced, dispatched vans with heroin and cocaine hidden inside.The drivers would then return to St Helens with plastic bags stuffed full of cash.By raking in around £40,000 a week, the couple are estimated to have made more than £4m over two years.Yesterday, Christopher Pimblett was jailed for 12 years after Judge Brian Lewis ruled he was the “controlling mind” of the gang.
He organised couriers and shipments, and liaised with Glasgow-based Fergus Smith – who was in control of the Scottish side of the organisation.Smith was locked up for 10 years and Pimblett’s former wife Sharon jailed for four years.Judge Lewis said Sharon Pimblett, a former pharmacy worker who was tearful throughout the proceedings, had an “active” role in assisting her husband.He jailed the 17-strong gang, who were convicted of conspiracy to supply Class A, B and C drugs from January 1, 2005 to April 17, 2007, for a total of 108 years and two months.
He said: “This was a large-scale, relatively sophisticated operation which was active for a period of over two years.”He added: “Class A drugs are the greatest social problem of our time.”Judge Lewis said the scale of the racket was obvious from the seizures police made – more than 10kg of cocaine, 50kg of cannabis, 12,000 ecstasy tables and more than £400,000 cash.However, that did nothing to prevent the operation continuing.
When officers raided the homes of gang members they found wads of cash, drums full of cutting agents and drug paraphernalia including cocaine presses. The gang was making so much profit they invested in money-counting machines.Expensive cars were shared between the gang and some members were planning to buy property abroad.Now a drugs gang who lived the high-life are behind bars.
Kingpin Christopher Pimblett ran his sophisticated drug trafficking empire from his lavish St Helens home.But Pimblett and his now ex-wife Sharon earned their £40,000 a week income by running drugs to Scotland and getting dealers to sell them on the streets of St Helens.The couriers were paid a few hundred pounds a trip, but Pimblett and those closet to him amassed a mountain of cash.Around £400,000 was found by police in safes buried in the garden of Philip Brown, Pimblett’s step-father.Detective Inspector Andy Black, of Merseyside Police’s Matrix unit, said: “They all had nice houses, nice cars and enjoyed travelling and foreign holidays.“Around the time Pimblett was arrested, he was talking about buying a house abroad and we know others had already done so.Financial investigators are already a long way down the road to stripping the gang of their ill-gotten gains under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Christopher Pimblett, 34, of Newmarket Gardens, St Helens, was the operation’s mastermind – 12 years.
Sharon Pimblett, 36, also of Newmarket Gardens – four years.
Pimblett’s step-father Philip Browne, 63, of Appleby Lawn, Netherley – four-and-a-half years.Pimblett’s “first lieutentant” Ian Moffatt, 37, of Falcondale, Warrington – nine years. His brother Carl Moffatt, 25, of Taylor Road, Haydock – six years.Darren Platt, 42, of Nutgrove Hall Drive, St Helens – six years. Thomas Green, 26, of Lilley Road, Kensington – six years.Qualified teacher Barry Brownbill, 35, of Constance Street, St Helens – four years. Peter Jones, 35, of Richard Grove, St Helens – five years.Christopher Kay, 23, of Snowberry Crescent, Warrington – nine years. John Johnson, 26, of Fairclough Road, St Helens – seven years, two months.
Kenneth Whitfield, 51, of Marina Avenue, Sutton, St Helens – three years. Michael Peel, 22, of Larkspur Road, Sankey Bridge – three-and-a-half years.
John Carr, 47, of Elephant Lane, Thatto Heath – five years.

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