58 years for ‘untouchable’ £1.9m Leeds drugs gang who traded in front of Malmaison hotel

The ten gang members who have been jailed
The ten gang members who have been jailed
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TWELVE members of an ‘untouchable’ gang of drug dealers have been given jail sentences totaling 58 years after they sold around £1.9 million of cocaine on the streets of Leeds.

A court heard the gang’s domination of the drugs market in Leeds was close to a monopoly over a 12 month period.

The majority of the drug deals took place in the city centre in front of the Malmaison Hotel, on Swinegate.

Much of the focus of the supply was aimed at recreational cocaine users in the city.

It is believed 14 men involved in the operation may have generated a total of £3 million throughout the period of offending through the sale of cocaine, heroin and cannabis.

They operated a series of ‘ring and bring’ dealer lines which generated almost 200,000 calls.

A total of 64,646 separate drug deals are believed to have been made before the gang members were arrested.

West Yorkshire Police worked undercover, posing as drug users, in order to gain evidence against the gang.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Griffin, from Leeds District CID, said: ‘‘The individuals convicted today have been involved in the organised and systematic supply of class A drugs on a large scale across the city.

“A number of those who are starting significant jail terms believed they were untouchable and reveled in the reputation they culminated through their criminality.

“This was an outstanding inquiry by dedicated and professional officers who have shown determination, patience and innovation. This highlights that even the most problematic criminals can be caught and convicted.

“We are committed to tackling those involved in the supply of drugs and the removal of this crime group and the harmful drugs they supplied makes communities across Leeds safer.’’

Describing the operation, prosecutor Jonathan Sharp said: “The supplies detected during the operation were of very short weight and the suppliers did not find it necessary to respond very quickly to requests of deliveries.

“The Crown observe the mechanism of competition was not present. It was noted that they had, if not a monopoly, a dominance over the market.

“They were confident they had no competition in the Leeds area and they could leave people hanging around for some time.”

Other areas were they supplied people with drugs included outside the Library pub in Woodhouse and The Arc Bar, in Headingley.

The men were arrested from properties across Leeds in March last year as part of West Yorkshire Police’s major crime fighting initiative Operation Viper.

Detectives from Leeds district began their covert operation after establishing a crime group in north Leeds.

During the course of the investigation officers uncovered six ‘dealer lines’ run by the group.

These are phone lines, which are usually linked to pay-as-you-go mobile phones.

Drugs users either call or text and then wait for dealers to make arrangements for drugs to be delivered to a set location.

Following the forensic examination of just one of the lines, detectives traced over 80,0000 contacts - either calls or text messages - to purchase drugs.

During the arrest phase assets in excess of £100,000 were seized with cash totalling £25,000 also uncovered.

Searches of a number of linked properties across Leeds also saw officers discover varying amounts of drugs including cocaine, heroin and cannabis. T

These are estimated to have a street value in excess of £70,000.

Twelve members of the gang were sentenced today.

They were:

• Shea Varley, 27, of Miles Hill Street, Leeds, jailed for nine years.

• Aiden Gidman, 24, of Borrowdale Close, Leeds, jailed for eight years.

• Daniel Franks, 24, of Miles Hill Avenue, Leeds, jailed for eight years.

• Richard Varley, 23, of Monkswood Close, Leeds, jailed for six years.

• Ashton Sutton-Barrow, 23, of Royal Park Road, Leeds, jailed for six years.

• Kevin Steele, 27, of Potternewton Avenue, Leeds was jailed for four years, eight months.

• Gurjodha Rathore, 25, of Scott Hall Road, Leeds- jailed for four years, four months.

• Randeep Singh Mudhar, 27, of Cambrian Street, Leeds- jailed for four years.

• Ralph Steele, 26. of Harehills Park Avenue, Leeds – jailed for three years.

• Preetpal Singh Mallli (24) of Stainburn Gardens, Leeds- jailed for two years, four months.

• Gurdas Rathore, 22, of Stainbeck Lane, Leeds- jailed for 16 months, suspended for two years, and given 150 hours unpaid work.

• Gurmal Singh, 22, of Alma House, Brentford London- jailed 12 months, suspended for 12 months, and given 250 hours unpaid work

Shaun Varley, 24, of Miles Hill Street, Leeds and Alex Simpson, 21, of Potternewton Avenue, Leeds will be sentenced at a later date