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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October, 2003, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
Drugs gang jailed for 146 years
Gregory Rothwell and Richard Brookhouse
Rothwell and Brookhouse received the longest sentences
A gang has been jailed for a total of 146 years after police uncovered a multi-million pound drugs smuggling ring.

The 12 men were sent to prison after what customs officers described as the biggest single seizure of drugs involving people from the North West.

The drugs, with an estimated street value of 20m, were discovered among vats carrying hazardous chemicals into the UK through the port of Dover.

A total of 232 kilograms of Class A and B drugs were recovered at the port in May 2002, and were destined to be distributed across the UK.

Those involved are mainly from Greater Manchester, although defendants from Birmingham, Shropshire and Warrington, in Cheshire, have also been jailed.

The seizure is just the tip of the iceberg but this should serve as a severe warning
Detective Superintendent David Brown

The haul included 119kgs of heroin, 99kgs of amphetamine, 14kgs of cannabis and one kilogram of cocaine.

At Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday, David Ellis, 41, of Bonsall Road, Erdington, Birmingham, was jailed for more than two years after he pleaded guilty to smuggling class B drugs.

The other 11 were jailed on Monday, with one - Richard Brookhouse, 35, of Bransdale Close, Great Ankey, Warrington - sentenced to 22 years behind bars, after he was found guilty of conspiring to import class A and B drugs.

Detective Superintendent David Brown, head of the Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: "I feel that 146 years reflects the severity of the offenders' actions and their intentions to distribute class A drugs throughout the country.

"We know that the drugs were destined for other organised criminal groups within the North West.

Paul Columbine and Gareth Marland
Columbine and Marland were jailed for 20 and 17 years respectively

"I know that the seizure is just the tip of the iceberg but this should serve as a severe warning.

"There may be people out there who are involved in such a group who are importing drugs into this country and yes in the short-term it may be profitable.

"But, when you are a young man with a family is a lengthy prison sentence really worth it?"

Other defendants, who pleaded guilty to importing class A and B drugs, were:

  • Gregory Rothwell, 35, of Ainsworth Road, Little Lever, Bolton who received 21 years

  • Gareth Marland, 35, of Edinburgh Road, Little Lever, Bolton was jailed for 17 years

  • Paul Geraghty, 23, of Georgina Court, Great Lever, Bolton was sentenced to nine years behind bars

  • Ian Longworth, 45, of Bridge Street, Kearsley, Bolton was jailed for 14 years

  • Paul Columbine, 35, of Harbern Close, Eccles received 20 years

  • Warren Baines, 31, of Kensington Court, Bolton was sentenced to eight years

  • David Roylance, 31, of Westminster Close, Grappenhill, Warrington received nine years

  • Terence Pimley, 39, of Redshank Lane, Birchwood, Warrington was sentenced to 10 years in jail

  • Joseph Kean, 28, of Bishops Castle, Shropshire received 10 years

    Further sentencing

    Paul O'Dee, of Doefield Avenue, Worsley, was found guilty of conspiring to import Class B drugs and was sent to jail for four years.

    Two men - Gary Fenton, 25, of Howcroft Close, Bolton and Peter Chapman, 26 of Richmond Walk, Radcliffe - who pleaded guilty to importation of Class B drugs are still to be sentenced.

    Fenton is due to appear in court on Monday 3 November, and Chapman is scheduled to be sentenced this Friday.

    The BBC's Judith Moritz
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