Drugs gang jailed for almost 140 years after heroin, amphetamines, cocaine and cannabis worth more than £3m seized
Members of a serious organised crime group with links to Yorkshire have been jailed for a combined total of nearly 140 years, after drugs worth over £3 million were seized.
The final set of verdicts were heard this week in a long-running court case following a two-year-long cross-border operation called Operation Heart. The investigation into the substantial supply of class A and B drugs between Bury and Doncaster was led by Greater Manchester Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Group alongside South Yorkshire Police.
A total of 18 people have now been jailed following the sentences at Manchester Crown Court this week.
The court heard that Shazia Din, 43, and Peter Wrafter, 58, colluded to form a network using their team of couriers on either side of the Pennines to facilitate the transportation and dissemination of drugs across both regions.
Din and her siblings – Hassan Din, 21, and Abia Din, 45, – operated an online beauty product supply business as a front for their covert criminal enterprise.
Detectives began to rigorously piece together intelligence that led them to make a number of arrests in Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire in the opening months of 2019.
The most significant haul was during the arrest of Lee Davis, 39, who was caught red handed while he was loading 28.2 kilos of heroin worth £2.8million into a van in June 2019.
On July 24, 2019 – with Wrafter already convicted and a significant number of accomplices arrested – GMP co-ordinated a final day strike to arrest Shazia, Hassan and Abia Din and the other remaining conspirators.
This included Wrafter’s daughter, Nicola Wrafter, who had replaced her father after his arrest and subsequent conviction, in continuing to collude with Shazia Din.
The operation, which involved officers from Doncaster’s Fortify team and GMP’s Serious Organised Crime Group, saw multiple warrants executed at a number of addresses in Doncaster and the Greater Manchester area last July.
The warrants were executed in a targeted strike day, following months of work by officers in both forces to identify individuals involved in a complex and sophisticated drugs supply route between Doncaster and north Manchester.
Seven addresses were targeted in Doncaster in the New Rossington, Woodlands and Balby areas, in addition to a further seven warrants in Bury, Ashton and Heywood.
Several kilograms of controlled drugs and approximately £20,000 cash was seized in those warrants.
Throughout the course of the investigation, more than 30 kilograms of heroin, more than 30 kilograms of amphetamine, more than three kilograms of cocaine and more than one kilogram of cannabis was seized, as well as more than £300,000 in cash, a hydraulic press, a firearm and ammunition.
Acting Detective Inspector Lee Wilson, from Doncaster CID, said: “This is a significant result for both South Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, as a large number of individuals involved in serious organised crime are now behind bars.
“Our partnership working also saw the seizure of significant amounts of drugs, which cause untold harm within our communities, and cash – ill-gotten gains from this group’s criminal lifestyle.
“We remain absolutely steadfast in our commitment to tackling organised crime and drug supply within Doncaster and South Yorkshire, to keep our residents safe.
“We know that organised criminal groups such as this can often prey on our most vulnerable members of the community and make people feel intimidated or scared to tell the police what’s happening.
“I am grateful to the officers from our Fortify team for their relentless efforts and to the officers from GMP whom we have worked alongside throughout, to disassemble this complex and substantial criminal network that spanned two force areas.
“I hope today’s result sends a strong message that forces across the country will stop at nothing to bring organised criminals before the courts and where those groups cross force borders, we will work together and combine our efforts to bring to justice those who would seek to cause harm and fear within our communities.”
Three other men from Doncaster were sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court last year for offences connected to the same drugs conspiracy.
Detective Inspector Lee Griffin, of GMP’s Serious and Organised Crime Group, said: “During the operation we scrutinised this group intensely as we uncovered their illicit activities across the country, enabling us to gather evidence and unravel the conspiracy.
“It is thanks to the hard work of all the officers in this case from Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire Police that a group of criminals using sophisticated methods have been stopped from deluging our streets with huge amounts of drugs.
“We have disrupted the supply of drugs and cash payments between the regions of not just Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire, but across the UK.
“Drugs wreck lives, destroy relationships and blight our communities. Those who are responsible for supplying illegal drugs to vulnerable people deserve no place in our society,
and our community is a safer place with them behind bars. It was also clear in this case vulnerable people were exploited to further the illegal trade in drugs.
“I hope this sentencing sends a clear message that GMP will work with our colleagues around the UK to relentlessly pursue those persons who supply harmful drugs and we will go to great lengths to bring them to justice.”
The following group were sentenced between July 27 and 29 at Manchester Crown Court for conspiracy to supply class A drugs:
Natalie Wrafter, 58, of Harewood Avenue, Doncaster – 11 years and three months;
Adam Hopewell, 32, of Whitcomb Drive, Rossington – nine years and six months;
Lee Davis,39, of Polefield Hall Road, Prestwich – nine years;
Mark Bird, 34, of Stonegate Mews, Doncaster – seven years;
Graham Towriss, 28, of Hartford Avenue, Heywood – six years;
Abia Din, 45, of Woodman Drive, Bury – 18 years;
Shazia Din, 43, of The Drive, Bury – 15 years;
Hassan Din, 21, of The Drive, Bury – 14 years;
After a delay in proceedings due to Covid-19, the following five men were sentenced on December 1 and 2 at Manchester Crown Court for conspiracy to supply class A drugs:
Melvyn Sheldon, 40, of East Avenue, Doncaster – six years;
Rocky Smith, 31, of Tranmore Lane, Goole – five years and six months;
Jonathon Ramsbottom, 36, of Boleyn Court, Rochdale – four years and six months;
James Dickson, 60, of Folijambe Crescent, Doncaster – four years and six months;
David Wright, 54, of Fletcher Close, Heywood – four years.
The following were also convicted for class A drug offences and were sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court:
Peter Wrafter, 58, of Harewood Avenue, Doncaster, was sentenced in April 2019 to 12 years;
Alan Forster, 42, of Wheatley Hall Road, Doncaster, was sentenced in May 2019 to three years and six months;
Lewis Darcy, 21, of Whitcomb Drive, New Rossington, was sentenced in May 2019 to five years.
The following were also sentenced:
Philip Pagin, 55, of Bankwood Lane, Doncaster, was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court on August 3 this year to two years for conspiracy to supply amphetamine;
Arjan Bedesha, 32, of Woodside Grove, County Durham, was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court in March 2019 to three years and four months for money laundering offences.