Leeds gangsters imported £1.5 billion worth of cocaine and crystal meth in frozen chicken packs

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A gang of drug smugglers imported £1.5 billion worth of cocaine in boxes of frozen chickens, with large quantities found in a flat in Leeds.

Officers from a police organised crime unit seized 311 kilos of cocaine worth £31 million, and 35 kilos of methylamphetamine worth £7 million, also known as crystal meth, from addresses on Flaxton Street in Beeston and from Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury.

The cocaine was brought into the country hidden within pallets of imported frozen chicken. A total of 318 pallets of chicken were imported, with an estimated 15.9 tons of cocaine, valued at £1.59 billion.

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The gang members were jailed for a combined total of more than 58 years at Sheffield Crown Court this afternoon.

The gang jailed today. Top l-r is Stephen Rayner, Cherie-Anne Rayner and Stephen Gibson. Bottom l-r is Darren Hunter, Megan Budden and the drugs found stashed in pallets of frozen chicken. (pics by WYP)The gang jailed today. Top l-r is Stephen Rayner, Cherie-Anne Rayner and Stephen Gibson. Bottom l-r is Darren Hunter, Megan Budden and the drugs found stashed in pallets of frozen chicken. (pics by WYP)
The gang jailed today. Top l-r is Stephen Rayner, Cherie-Anne Rayner and Stephen Gibson. Bottom l-r is Darren Hunter, Megan Budden and the drugs found stashed in pallets of frozen chicken. (pics by WYP)

It was heard that Leeds man Stephen Rayner played a leading role, while his sister Cherie-Anne Rayner and her partner Liam Harrington used their Flaxton Street home to weigh and re-package the drugs.

Brandon Maan worked as a drugs and cash courier for the gang and would often be accompanied on drug runs by his partner Megan Budden from Ravensthorpe. Maan was instructed by Stephen Rayner to deliver and collect huge amounts of drugs and cash all over the UK.

Budden allowed Maan to use her home at The Crescent, Dewsbury, as a drug warehouse from where officers seized 58 kilos of cocaine, valued at £5.8 million.

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Drug runner Steven Gibson was trusted to collect large quantities from a warehouse in Redditch in the West Midlands to where it was imported. His van was then loaded up to supply other couriers.

Det Chief Supt Galvin with some of the seized drugs. (pic by WYP)Det Chief Supt Galvin with some of the seized drugs. (pic by WYP)
Det Chief Supt Galvin with some of the seized drugs. (pic by WYP)

Gibson was subsequently stopped by police in December last year with three large holdalls containing 75 kilos of cocaine, valued at £7.5 million. Another courier, Darren Hunter, was stopped on the M6 and found to have 40 kilos of cocaine, estimated to be worth £4 million.

Police officers then attended the Redditch warehouse where they found Tabrez Hussain with the frozen chicken. Hussain’s role involved removing the cocaine from the boxes and putting it into large holdalls, before loading them into Gibson’s vehicle.

A legitimate Dutch haulage company was used to deliver the drugs from overseas unaware of the cargo. Between March and December 2022, the firm made 34 deliveries of frozen chicken to the Redditch unit, totalling 318 pallets.

  • Stephen Rayner, aged 31, of Scargill Grange, Leeds, who admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine and methylamphetamine, was jailed for 20 years.
  • Cherie-Anne Rayner, aged 30, of Flaxton Street, Leeds, admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine and methamphetamine was jailed for 15 years.
  • Liam Harrington, aged 39, of Flaxton Street, Leeds, admitted assisting an organised crime group and was jailed for three years.
  • Megan Budden, aged 23, of The Crescent, Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury, admitted assisting an organised crime group and jailed for 28 months.
  • Steven Gibson, aged 41, of Belsyde Avenue, Glasgow, admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine, was jailed for 12 years.
  • Darren Hunter, aged 30, of Queenslie Street, Glasgow, admitted possession with intent to supply cocaine and was jailed for six years.
  • Brandon Maan, aged 23, of Churchbank Way, Dewsbury, admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine and will be sentenced at a later date.
  • Tabrez Hussain, aged 40, of Cuthbert Road, Birmingham, admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine and will be sentenced at a later date.