TOP DRUGS cops from a specialist force that brought down a £100m smuggling ring has welcomed the 34 years in prison handed out to a Grappenhall couple behind the international plot.

Drug lord Richard Brookhouse, aged 45, and Diane Brookhouse, aged 42, found out their fate in a day of reckoning at Warrington Crown Court on Friday.

It saw 18 members of the ‘sophisticated’ smuggling operation locked up for a combined total of 217 years. 

For a full account of the sentences, read our live coverage as it happened here

Detective Superintendent Jason Hudson, Titan's head of operations, said: “This gang dealt in massive quantities of import-quality Class A drugs and to put them behind bars for many years is hugely satisfying everyone who worked on this case. 

Warrington Guardian:

"Police officers, lawyers and expert witnesses have worked tirelessly to bring this gang to justice and the prison sentences handed down reflect the seriousness of their crimes.  

“The prison service also played a key role in our investigations into Richard Brookhouse's criminal activities.

"This is the second £100 million drugs conspiracy successfully investigated by Titan in the past year and demonstrates our capacity to go after some of the region's biggest drug dealers and most dangerous criminal gangs.

"Richard Brookhouse masterminded the importation of these drugs, using established criminals in Manchester and Liverpool to saturate the cocaine and heroin markets in towns and cities across the region.

"By systematically dismantling his gang, and by seizing such huge quantities of drugs, we have prevented criminals further lining their pockets on the back of the damage that heroin and cocaine cause in our communities."

Mr Brookhouse, one of the biggest dealers in the north west, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin and Mcat. 

Warrington Guardian:

Judge Nicholas Woodward decided that Mrs Brookhouse ‘willingly’ played a role in the 12 month racket, living a luxurious lifestyle with the ill gotten gains.

The mum-of-two, of Coronation Avenue, Grappenhall, was jailed for 14 years after a jury found her guilty of the conspiracy in December.

She spent thousands of pounds on Botox, cosmetic dental work and designer shopping sprees, now known to be funded with drug money.

The conspirators, who came from Manchester, Liverpool, Cheshire, Leicestershire and West Yorkshire, used the drugs to supply other prominent drug dealers in towns and cities throughout the region.

Detectives from Titan seized massive amounts of cocaine, as well as heroin, when they intercepted several of the defendants in Essex after they returned from buying the drugs in Europe under the guise of a fishing trip to France.

Other defendants were arrested at a holiday park in Wirral where they had gone to divide up another consignment of drugs. They will be sentenced in March.

Mr Brookhouse masterminded the conspiracy while behind bars serving a 22 year sentence for a previous drugs racket.

He was the 'controlling mind' of the conspiracy, and used his contacts in the criminal underworld both in the UK and Europe to find people willing to bulk buy the drugs.

Andrew Wilde, aged 53 from Partington, Manchester, was the gang's transport manager and organised the fishing trips to Europe that some of the other defendants went on to collect the drugs. 

Detectives proved he used contacts in Germany to arrange the handover of drugs in Europe to other gang members, who then brought them back into the UK.

Financial investigators found that jobless Wilde had earned sufficient money to afford a second home (a static caravan), a Nissan Navarro pick-up truck and a luxury holiday to the Verde Islands a month before he was arrested.

Father and son team Paul and Steven Harwood from Urmston were arrested in Essex with a van full of drugs, having returned from a fishing trip in France.

Paul, 61, was involved in all seven trips, culminating in his arrest on April 6 near a coach park in Bicknacre, Essex, when drugs worth £12 million were found in his van - a seizure believed to be the biggest in Titan's history.

Steven, 36, took part in the final fishing trip and acted as his father's driver.

Neil Flewitt QC, prosecuting, said he went on the trip knowing the purpose was to purchase drugs and bring them back into the UK.

Karl Glennon, aged 47, from Urmston, Manchester and Stephen Crane, aged 55, from Leicestershire also made trips abroad to collect the drugs under the direction of Wilde.

Carl Wall met Richard Brookhouse in prison and was described in court as being a 'major Merseyside drug dealer' who dealt in wholesale quantities of import quality Class A drugs.

Detectives believe the majority of the drugs found in the van in Essex were destined for Wall and two other 'wholesalers' - Gerrard Mooney and Darren Williams.

Mooney, 31, from Liverpool, was arrested by police during the Grand National race at Aintree racecourse last April on the same day that the drugs were seized in Essex.

At the time he was arrested he was wearing a £5,000 Rolex watch and had £1000 in cash on him.

Williams, aged 39, also from Liverpool, was similarly involved in purchasing large quantities of the drugs brought back from the fishing trips.

The eight other defendants who pleaded guilty - including Bury brothers Omar and Ali Amin - were all found to have acted as dealers who on occasion bought large amounts of cocaine and heroin from the gang's hierarchy to then sell for massive profits on the streets of towns and cities across the north west.