TWO men from Warrington have been charged as being part of the country’s biggest drugs gang.

The National Crime Agency arrested 13 men during a series of dawn raids across the country on Tuesday, October 8.

Among them were 55-year-old Mark Peers, from Penketh, and 54-year-old Paul Ruane, from Bewsey.

The pair, of Norbreck Close and Bewsey Road respectively, have since been charged with two counts of conspiracy to import class A drugs and two charged of conspiracy to import class B drugs.

Officers executed search warrants in connection with an organised crime group believed to be responsible for importing drugs worth billions of pounds into the UK from the Netherlands.

Warrington Guardian:

The suspects are believed to be part of the UK arm of a ‘well-established gang’ that used Dutch and British front companies to import more than 50 tonnes of heroin, cocaine and cannabis through UK ports over an 18-month period – hidden in lorry loads of vegetables and juice.

Warrington Guardian:

Jayne Lloyd, the National Crime Agency’s regional head of investigations, said: “The NCA targets organised crime groups causing the greatest harm to the UK.

“Stopping criminals who don’t care about the damage they are causing in communities, and the children being exploited by County Lines drug dealing, is an absolute priority.

“We suspect these men were involved in an industrial-scale operation – the biggest ever uncovered in the UK – bringing in tonnes of deadly drugs that were distributed to crime groups throughout the country.

“By working closely with partners here and overseas, in particular the Dutch National Police, we believe we have dismantled a well-established drug supply route.”

The full extent of the alleged drug trafficking operation was uncovered following the interception of three consignments in September 2018 containing 351kg of cocaine, 92kg of heroin, 250kg of cannabis and 1,850kg of hemp – with a total street value of more than £38million.

Warrington Guardian:

Subsequent enquiries led officers to believe they had imported drugs on numerous occasions between February 2017 and October 2018.

This investigation linked to an NCA operation where 13 individuals were jailed for a total of 176 years, after the seizure of more than 100kg of heroin in 2015.

Also charged in connect with the operation were:

  • Paul Green, 54, from St Helens
  • Andrew Reilly, 37, from St Helens
  • Mohammed Ovais, 41, from Manchester
  • Khaleed Vazeer, 56, from Manchester
  • Ghazanfar Mahmood, 48, from Bolton
  • Steven Martin, 48, from Bolton
  • Oliver Penter, 37, from Stockport
  • Ifthikar Hussain, 46, from Leeds
  • Voijtech Dano, 38, from Dewsbury
  • Ivan Turtak, 34, from Dewsbury
  • Sohail Quereshi, 59, from London

All the defendants appeared at Manchester Magistrates Court today, Thursday, in order to face their respective charges.

They were remanded into custody and are now due to appear before Manchester Crown Court next month.

A further four men and two women from the Netherlands were arrested by the Dutch National Police in April on European arrest warrants, and are currently awaiting extradition to the UK.