THE cocaine rackets of Jamie Oldroyd and Jamie Simpson led to Warrington becoming a national hub in the supply of class A drugs.

From Darlington to Scunthorpe and from Manchester to Sussex, the two rings based in the town trafficked millions of pounds worth of illicit substances across the country.

But what was it about Warrington that allowed Oldroyd and Simpson – two men who had previously only had relatively minor brushes with the law, if any at all – to source and ship cocaine in such large numbers?

Police have pointed to its geographical location as a key factor.

Not only is it sandwiched between the M6, M62 and M56, Warrington also lies in the middle of two major cities in Manchester and Liverpool – both of which are not shy of criminality.

Warrington Guardian:

£20million of cocaine seized from Jamie Simpson's gang on the M6

This has the effect of young and impressionable residents aspiring to the ‘gangster lifestyle’ enjoyed by some in neighbouring boroughs.

And police sources also believe that criminals in Manchester and Liverpool whose livelihoods are under threat may move their operations to the town – allowing them to be a big fish in a small pond away from the same levels of intimidation found in the big city.

Detective chief inspector Mike Evans of Cheshire Police’s serious and organised crime unit said: “When you look at Warrington’s geographical location, it’s in between two major cities and between three major motorway networks.

“I also think you have individuals in Warrington who look at so-called gangsters in Manchester and Liverpool and think ‘I want a bit of that lifestyle’.

“If you do that in Warrington, you will stand out – and if you stand out you’ll be hearing from ourselves.”

Police are already aware that other aspiring criminals are hoping to fill the void left by the Oldroyd and Simpson drug rings being taken down.

Warrington Guardian:

A picture of a bag filled with money found on Islam Grana's phone

But the force is actively investigating these up-and-coming gangs.

DCI Evans said: “We’ve dismantled two organised crime groups in Warrington, and there will be people looking to fill that space – we are aware of that.

“This is the third major operation in Warrington in the last few years, and we are already looking at the people who are hoping to fill those gaps.

“We’ve made significant inroads, but our work is never done and we will keep going.

“Every time they develop a new tactic, we will develop a way to counter that and bring them to justice.”

Warrington Guardian:

Drug paraphernalia found in a property on Biggin Court in Padgate which was linked to Oldroyd's gang

One area of investigation for Cheshire Police is supposedly legitimate businesses posing as a front for money laundering for the drug trade – something it believes is particularly prevalent in Warrington.

Officers who investigated Oldroyd and Simpsons suspected that their Pro Lease Vehicle Hire and bouncy castle rental companies were used for this objective, although these allegations were never brought to court.

DCI Evans added: “There were a number of businesses that were used to launder money or to front this drug trade.

“We will work with our partner agencies to close these kinds of businesses down and take action.

“We’re identifying more of them – we’re seeing legitimate businesses being used as a front for organised crime.

“They are cash-rich businesses dealing in things like bouncy castles and food.

“We will take this money back and shut the premises down.”

And DCI Evans has also pleaded with young kids tempted to work for gangs to think twice – as well as for cocaine users to be aware of the impact of the drug trade on communities.

Warrington Guardian:

DCI Evans said: “We’re constantly hearing the argument that drugs are a lot less dangerous than cigarettes or alcohol, but regardless of your position on them cigarettes and alcohol are regulated industries.

“The drugs industry is not a regulated industry which means that there is a lot of money involved, and where there’s a lot of money, there’s a lot of violence.

“People think it’s socially acceptable to take cocaine on a Friday or Saturday or night, but we’ve seen firearms discharges and arson attacks linked to this group.

“We’ve seen some real significant violence and some real community quality of life issues as a result of drugs supply across Warrington.

“I would really urge you to think about where your drugs are coming from and the damage you are doing to your communities when you take those drugs.”

Warrington Guardian:

Shots were fired at Oldroyd’s parents house as a result of his involvement in organised crime, while his brother’s sweet shop Dutch Lux was petrol bombed during an arson attack.

DCI Evans added: “Some of the people convicted as part of this investigation were 20 years old with no previous convictions and come from decent families.

“There was a real level of arrogance, and a real level of selfishness – these people don’t care about the communities or their families, these individuals see themselves as untouchable.

“We watch them in court or in police interviews sobbing and apologising for what they’ve done.

“Use your brain and think about this before you embark upon something to get what you think is £500 or £1,000 of easy money.

“They’ve brought an awful lot of harm on their community, upset their families and probably done irreparable damage to themselves for the future.

Warrington Guardian:

“If you’re 18, 19 or 20 and you’re looking at that money for an hour’s easy work, you will automatically bring threats upon yourself if you’re involved in drugs supply because there is always someone bigger who will want the round that you’ve got.

“That £500 for an hour’s work is a lot more than an hour when they’re stood in court.”