Dozens of people have been arrested and charged after police busted a drugs operation to bring millions of pounds of Class A and B drugs to Lancashire.

Five people have been arrested and 23 others charged in connection with the conspiracy to import illicit drugs from Europe into Darwen.

In early 2021, the East Lancashire Exploitation Team launched an operation into an organised criminal gang (OCG) suspected of importing significant quantities of heroin, amphetamine, cocaine and cannabis into east Lancashire before distributing it further afield.

The operation saw warrants executed at addresses in Darwen, Blackburn, Greater Manchester, Cumbria and London.

Officers recovered significant amounts of Class A and Class B drugs, as well as weapons, illegally-imported cigarettes, mobile phones, hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash and designer watches.

One search of a mill in the Hollins Grove area of Darwen - suspected of being used as a packaging base for significant quantities of Class A and Class B drugs - saw the discovery of 10kgs of amphetamine and an even more significant amount of cutting agent used to reduce the purity of the drug.

A 35-year-old man from Salford has been arrested on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug. He has since been released under investigation.

A man from Blackburn, two men from Darwen and a woman from Barrow all arrested on suspicion of conspiring to supply controlled drugs have also since been released under investigation.

A woman form Darwen arrested on suspicion of conspiring to supply controlled drugs has been released without charge.

Following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, 23 people have been charged in connection with the investigation:

  • Zachariah Deaffern, 31, of Turncroft Road, Darwen is charged with conspiring to supply heroin, cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis. He is also charged with conspiring to import cannabis.
  • Sam Stone, 58, of Lees Court, Darwen is charged with conspiring to supply heroin, cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis. He is also charged with conspiring to import cannabis and possession of a prohibited weapon.
  • John Rowe, 53, of Lynthorpe Road, Blackburn, is charged with conspiring to supply cocaine and cannabis. He is also charged with conspiring to import cannabis.
  • Ashley Morris, 31, of Waters Edge, Middleton, is charged with conspiring to supply heroin, cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis.
  • Hasret Ramadani, 23, of Queens Road, Blackburn, is charged with conspiring to supply Amphetamine and Cannabis.
  • Pajtim Shehu, 41, of no fixed address, is charged with conspiring to supply cannabis.
  • Dexter Ryan, 59, of Avon Close, Blackburn, is charged with conspiring to import and supply cannabis.
  • Phillip Peters, 41, of Edward Tyler Road, London, is charged with conspiring to supply and import cannabis, being concerned in the supply of cocaine and money laundering.
  • James Moran, 33, of Holden Fold, Darwen, is charged with conspiring to supply cocaine and cannabis.
  • Phillip Alderson, 34, of Bolton Road, Darwen, is charged with conspiring to supply heroin, cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis.
  • Sean Bradshaw, 55, of Leven Grove, Darwen, is charged with conspiring to supply amphetamine.
  • John Cropper, 45, of Roseway Avenue, Cadishead, is charged with conspiring to supply amphetamine.
  • Joshua Main, 25, of Ivinson Road, Darwen, is charged with conspiring to supply cocaine and cannabis.
  • Jake McCosh, 25, of Pitville Street, Darwen, is charged with conspiring to supply cocaine.
  • Anthony Richardson, 38, of Mackenzie Street, Bolton, is charged with conspiring to supply amphetamine.
  • Colin Eyres, 43, of Rake Lane, Swinton is charged with conspiring to supply cannabis and money laundering.
  • Deon Houghton, 36, of Cunliffe Close, Blackburn is charged with conspiring to supply cannabis.
  • Joanne Smith, 49, of Elswick Street, Darwen is charged with conspiring to supply cannabis.
  • Andrew Berry, 30, of Hadrian’s Camp, Carlisle, is charged with conspiring to supply cannabis.
  • Richard Panter, 35, of Longsight Road, Ramsbottom, is charged with conspiring to supply cannabis.
  • Lee Booth, 35, of Holcombe Road, Greenmount, is charged with producing cannabis.
  • Ernest Williams, 55, of Meadow Walk, Farnworth, is charged with possess with intent to supply a controlled drug of Class B and acquiring / using / possessing criminal property.

They have all appeared before Blackburn Magistrates' Court.

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