MEMBERS of a drugs gang which made up to £2,000 per day and sold heroin and crack cocaine next to a children’s nursery have been jailed.

The ‘extremely disciplined and experienced’ organised crime group flooded the streets of Warrington with class A drugs.

Yesterday, Thursday, five members of the racket were jailed for nearly 25 years at Liverpool Crown Court.

Tip-offs from residents sparked a three-month investigation by Cheshire Police codenamed Operation Bugbear, which employed covert surveillance of the gang between April and July 2018 – leading to a series of raids and arrests.

Officers estimated that the Liverpool-based syndicate raked in between £1,500 and £2,000-a-day, pedalling heroin and crack cocaine on the town’s streets in the middle of the day – even selling the illicit substances next to a nursery on one occasion.

On average, the gang were supplying between 15 and 20 grams of class As in £10 street deals each day.

Graham Daniels, of Poplars Avenue in Orford, transported the heroin and crack from a house in the Old Swan area – where the drugs were bagged up – to Warrington before driving back to Liverpool with the profits at the end of the day.

Warrington Guardian:

Graham Daniels

Drug addict Nichola Gardner's house on Valiant Close in Fearnhead was used as a base for dealing by 26-year-old Anthony Bath.

Gilesie Smith, 20, would operate the phone that users would contact in order to get their fix before directing Bath to meet them.

Warrington Guardian:

Gilesie Smith

Twenty-two-year-old Michael Murphy, from Liverpool, rented the hub of the operation in the city.

Residents reported to the police that they had witnessed ‘serious acts of violence involving weapons’ which were linked to the gang’s activities.

Daniels, 48, admitted supplying heroin and crack cocaine and was jailed for four years and six months.

Smith, from Liverpool, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin, crack cocaine and cannabis and was imprisoned for six years and nine months.

Bath, also from Liverpool, admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine and was caged for six years.

Warrington Guardian:

Anthony Bath

Murphy pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis with intent to supply and allowing a premises to be used for the supply of class A drugs and was handed three years and three months behind bars.

Warrington Guardian:

Michael Murphy

Twenty-two-year-old Liam Grant, from Liverpool, admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis as part of the operation and was jailed for three years and two months.

Warrington Guardian:

Liam Grant

Gardner, 47, was jailed for a year in July 2019 after admitting allowing a premises to be used for the supply of class A drugs.

Warrington Guardian: Police have smashed down a door during a raid in Padgate

The front door of Gardner's home after it was raided in 2018

A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was also given an 18-month youth rehabilitation order after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Detective chief inspector Mike Evans, from Cheshire Police’s serious and organised crime unit, said: “An organised crime group is behind bars due to the local community spotting the signs of drug activity and coming forward to report it.

“After providing us with vital information we began an investigation to get to the root of a county lines gang who were extremely disciplined and well-versed in their criminality.

“During our operation our surveillance caught the gang openly dealing at the children’s nursery.

“We quickly established that they never spared a thought for anyone living nearby – especially young children – as they supplied crack cocaine and heroin on the streets.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank the people of Warrington for not only recognising drug-related activity in their area but for actively reporting it.

“Without you being our eyes and ears, this gang could still have been carrying out their illegal activities on the streets and blighting the community with drugs.”