A man responsible for organising a major drugs supply chain spanning the UK, Europe and South America has been jailed for 24 years after being extradited from Holland.
Michael Williams, 42, was the 27th person to be arrested in connection with Operation Greengage the Lancashire Constabulary investigation into an organised crime group that was operating across two continents.
Officers from the force’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit began Operation Greengage in November 2006.
The main subject of the initial investigation was Ivan Hue, of Robin Street, Preston. Lancashire Constbulary identified that Hue was using a network of couriers, which included close family members and friends, to transport funds to Amsterdam to pay for drugs that would then be imported into the UK.
The investigation later identified that Hue was in fact sourcing his cocaine from Williams and another man, Michael Hailwood.
Officers identified four Fiats that the group, headed by Williams and Hailwood, had purchased in late 2006 in the north of England and Arbroath in Scotland. Using these vehicles, numerous trips were made between the UK and Amsterdam, with money being exchanged at both ends. Drugs and firearms were being smuggled into the UK via the specially modified vehicles.
On August 6, 2007, two Polish nationals under the direction of Williams were stopped by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) at Eastern Docks, Dover in a Fiat Multipla. Concealed in the vehicle were a large quantity of ecstasy, cannabis, seven new handguns and 1200 rounds of ammunition.
As the investigation progressed, an extensive organised crime group operating across England, Scotland and Europe was identified. It became apparent that an organised crime group within Scotland was already being investigated by the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency.
Their investigation was focused on Edward McIntosh and Michael Hailwood. The investigation identified that Williams, Hailwood and McIntosh were also involved in using predominantly Eastern European couriers to import high purity cocaine stored internally. The cocaine was sourced direct from Bolivia and transported to the UK via Argentina and the European mainland. A number of such couriers were arrested with cocaine at Edinburgh, Heathrow and Madrid airports.
Williams was also subject to an investigation by the Dutch Military Police at Schipol Airport, Amsterdam, for drugs importation from South America and firearm related offences. He was sentenced to four years and eight months imprisonment for these offences.
Following his release, he was extradited and put before the courts in England.
Williams appeared at Liverpool Crown Court for trial this month and yesterday (Thu) was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to supply MDMA and conspiracy to possess class C drugs (cannabis).
Williams has been jailed for 24 years after appearing at Liverpool Crown Court.
Detective Inspector Martin Kane said: “Williams’ extradition shows our continued commitment to convicting all those involved in this organised crime group and putting them before the courts.”
“He was a key player in the gang and has quite rightly been given a lengthy sentence.
“A large, sophisticated crime group, spanning the UK and mainland Europe, has been completely dismantled. The disruption of this gang has prevented untold quantities of drugs and firearms being brought into Lancashire and beyond, which ultimately could have had very serious consequences.”
The members of the gang have so far been jailed for a total of more than 350 years, Hue was jailed for 24 years; McIntosh was jailed for 16 years and Hailwood for 22 years.