Eleven people have been jailed for a combined total of more than 76 years after police smashed a 'brazen', £3million-a-year drugs gang.
Programme Challenger, the unit set up to tackle serious and organised crime, spent a year tracking an Organised Crime Group (OCG) that dealt in almost every drug imaginable including cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis, Xanax and ketamine.
Through Operation Telegram, detectives with Greater Manchester Police were able to take down the gang from top to bottom.
Three men, Faisal Nawaz, Qaisar Nawaz and Yusuf Meah, were identified as heads of the OCG.
They were able to obtain large supplies of class A and B drugs via their criminal connections in London, Oxford and Birmingham.
Once the drugs were received, the trio stored them in a Ford Focus stash car to avoid them being detected and seized, police said.
They regularly visited a safe house in Burnage occupied by Nicola and Connor Kieran where the drugs were packaged and stored.
Drugs were then regularly distributed out to the gang's street dealers - Kane O’Connor, Aidan Jones and Drew Downes.
Police told how Faisal Nawaz, Qaisar Nawaz and Meah controlled their drug dealing empire via four phone lines.
They would take orders and then their street dealers would deliver, using stolen cars and regularly visiting the stash house to collect the drugs and deposit the proceeds of sales.
Analysis of the phone data later estimated that the drug-dealing activity was worth between £1.5 to £3million a year, police said.
Three of the gang brought their friends or girlfriends into the enterprise.
Casey Townsend, the girlfriend of Faisal Nawaz, was frequently present with him when collecting drugs from the stash car and during drug deals.
Kane O'Connor's girlfriend Louise Krossey sent text messages to him and fellow street dealer Aidan Jones, informing them of car registration plates they could clone and use on stolen cars.
She also warned them when police were in the area.
The gang's downfall began on December 5, 2018, when officers seized a Ford Focus on Waller Avenue in Fallowfield containing both class A and class B drugs worth an estimated £15,000.
Following the seizure, Faisal Nawaz, Qaisar Nawaz and Meah tried to throw police off the scene by discarding their drug phone lines and relocating to Manchester city centre, where they set up afresh.
But investigators found them and established that Faisal Nawaz and Meah were living in an apartment that had been leased to them under a false name.
That move had been facilitated by Lois Chubb, the girlfriend of Qaisar Nawaz who was working as a letting agent at the time, police said.
On March 14 last year, the gang’s activity was brought to an abrupt end when police arrested nine of the eleven offenders in co-ordinated raids at seven different addresses across Manchester and Cheshire.
O’Connor, who was already serving a sentence for aggravated vehicle taking, dangerous driving, unlawful wounding and driving whilst disqualified, was produced from prison for interview, and the eleventh offender - Aiden Jones - was later arrested on July 2, 2019 in Eccles.
Police said during the investigation, drugs worth an estimated £40,000 were seized and enough evidence collected to ensure all eleven pleaded guilty.
Detective Inspector Melanie Johnson, from the Challenger Team said: "The eleven people sentenced here today are a brazen group of criminals who thought they were above the law and beyond detection.
"The decision at today’s hearing comes as a result of months of hard work by GMP’s officers and is a testament to the dedication of the entire Operation Telegram team.
"The severity of their offences should not be underestimated and I hope this serves as a deterrent to those people who wish to pursue this illicit line of work that we will do all that is within our power to bring such criminals to justice.
"Continuing to tackle the influx of drugs in the area will remain a top priority for GMP and we will do all we can to stop such offending.
"However we cannot do this alone and I would appeal directly to the community to please come forward with any information that could assist us in what continues to be an ongoing operation."
Yesterday, five of the eleven offenders were sentenced at Minshull Street Crown Court.
Faisal Nawaz, 35, of Bloomfield Close, Stockport, pleaded guilty to supply of cocaine, MDMA, cannabis, ketamine and xanax as well as handling stolen vehicles. He was sentenced to ten years and six months in jail.
Qaisar Nawaw, 34, of Pelton Close, Manchester, pleaded guilty to supply of cocaine, MDMA, cannabis, ketamine and xanax as well as handling stolen vehicles. He was sentenced to ten years and six months in jail.
Yusuf Meah, 31, of Moorton Avenue, Manchester, pleaded guilty to supply of cocaine, MDMA, cannabis, ketamine and xanax as well as handling stolen vehicles. He was sentenced to ten years and six months in jail.
Drew Downes, 24, of Newsham Road, Stockport, pleaded guilty to supply of cannabis and handling stolen vehicles and was found guilty of supply of cocaine and MDMA. He was sentenced in his absence to seven years and six months in jail.
Kane O’Connor, 24, of HMP Lancaster Farms, Manchester, pleaded guilty to supply of cocaine, MDMA, cannabis, ketamine and xanax as well as handling stolen vehicles. He was sentenced to seven years and six months in jail.
Today, the remaining six offenders were sentenced at Minshull Street Crown Court.
Casey Townsend, 28, of Bloomfield Close, Stockport pleaded guilty to supply of cocaine and cannabis and was found guilty of supply of MDMA, ketamine and Xanax as well as handling stolen vehicles. She was sentenced to five years and ten months in jail.
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Nicola Kieran, 28, of Barnfield Road, Manchester pleaded guilty to supply of cannabis and was found guilty of supply of MDMA, cocaine and ketamine. She was sentenced to six years and six months in jail.
Connor Kieran, 20, of Barnfield Road, Manchester was found guilty of supply of cocaine, cannabis, MDMA and ketamine. He was sentenced to six years in jail.
Aidan Jones, 27, of Burnage Lane, Manchester pleaded guilty to supply of Xanax and cannabis and was found guilty of handling stolen vehicles. He was sentenced to four years and nine months in jail.
Lois Chubb, 32, of Pelton Close, Manchester was found guilty of supply of cocaine, cannabis, MDMA, ketamine and Xanax. She was sentenced to six years and six months years in jail.
Louise Krossey, 19, of Heathwood Road, Burnage pleaded guilty to the supply of cannabis and was sentenced to two years suspended for two years.