MEMBERS of a gang caught with drugs worth tens of thousands of pounds during police raids have been jailed for nearly 25 years.

Key figures at the head of the organised crime group – which had a network of safehouses across Warrington – even recruited their girlfriends and grandmas to work in the supply of cocaine.

Today, Thursday, conspirators were put behind bars for a combined total of 24-and-a-half years at Liverpool Crown Court.

However, several defendants walked free from court.

The court heard that a lengthy covert investigation codenamed Operation Iconic led to a series of raids at properties in the town during late 2018 and early 2019.

Warrington Guardian:

Police raiding a property to make an arrest in July 2019

Two packages of cocaine with street values of £70,910 and £59,010 were discovered when a search warrant was executed at a house on Armour Avenue in Longford in January last year.

Days earlier, £3,600 of the class A drug and £1,590 in cash was seized from a safehouse on Windermere Avenue in Orford.

And in October 2018, a quantity of ecstasy worth up to £6,720 was found when police raided a flat on Bewsey Park Close.

READ MORE: How police brought down the racket caught with nearly £150,000 of drugs

Lewis Turner, of Howson Road in Orford, was the gang’s ringleader and called himself the Big Boss Baby.

Warrington Guardian:

Lewis Turner

He sourced the drugs from members of another racket which had earlier been brought down by Cheshire Police’s Operation Fullbacks, with the cocaine and ecstasy then sold on in a ‘large scale street dealing’ basis.

In doing so, a turnover of £1,000 per week was generated.

Second in command was Anthony Morgan, of Densham Avenue in Longford.

Warrington Guardian:

Anthony Morgan

The 26-year-old enrolled his grandma Julie Morgan, partner Maria Beeby and her step-sister Katie Newton to be a part of the conspiracy.

Turner’s girlfriend Samantha Gerrard was also an important figure in the gang.

READ MORE: Inside the cocaine dealing ring run by Leon and Anthony Cullen’s nephew

Detective chief inspector Giles Pierce, of Cheshire Police's serious and organised crime unit, said: “Turner taking over as the ringleader gave him a huge ego, he was arrogant and often displayed acts of serious violence in order to mark his authority.

"He was motivated by the money he was generating from the supply of drugs and would be constantly splashing cash.

"The gang itself was very close-knit.

"It recruited close family and friends who were relied upon, but fully complicit in the conspiracy, to ensure the gang made a profit.

"Often when one organised crime gang is put in prison there is an attempt to fulfil the void, however sooner or later, they come to our attention.

“Here, we are once again seeing a gang disrupted in Warrington and put behind bar - another warning that Warrington isn’t the place to commit organised crime."

Many of the gang members are expected to be hauled back before the court later this year for a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing, during which they could be ordered to pay back their ill-gotten gains.

The members of the gang and the sentences they received:

Lewis Turner

The man at the top of the tree, Turner was the link between the gangs identified in Operations Fullbacks and Iconic.

Nicknamed Lew by his associates, the 25-year-old controlled the supply of drugs and money.

Sentence: Six years and nine months in prison

Anthony Morgan

Morgan ranked just below Turner in the hierarchy.

Also known as Clint, he directed others to move drugs to safehouses and influenced members of his family to become a part of the conspiracy.

Sentence: Six years and two months in prison

Anthony Bond

The 39-year-old football coach – of Lowerhouse Lane in Widnes – was a ‘trusted courier’ of drugs and cash, who became involved in the gang after running up debts from his cocaine habit.

Defence barrister Melania Bennett told the court that her client ‘lost the plot’ after losing his job shortly before Christmas 2018 and the death of his baby daughter the following month, leading to a ‘dramatic’ increase in his consumption of drugs.

Warrington Guardian:

Sentence: Four years and one month in prison

Kayvon Allen

The 28-year-old, of Eddisford Drive in Culcheth, played a ‘significant role’ in the operation in the packaging and storing drugs.

Warrington Guardian:

Sentence: Four-and-a-half years in prison

Julie Morgan

Anthony Morgan’s grandma was a ‘shining example of professionalism’ while working as an auxiliary nurse in a children’s hospital for 21 years, as well as in the security industry in the pubs and clubs.

But she assisted her grandson in the storage, packaging and delivery of drugs over a period of six weeks and used her home on Windermere Avenue in Orford as a safehouse.

The ‘matriarch of the family’ – a ‘caring and loving’ great-grandma – spent her 59th birthday in court for a trial of issue on Tuesday.

She described herself as an ‘emotional car crash who has ruined her good name and reputation’.

Sentence: Two-year imprisonment suspended for two years, 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement and 120 hours of unpaid work

Paul Ratcliffe

The construction worker, nicknamed Racko, was introduced to Turner through a friend.

He was in debt and was offered £1,000 a month in order to stash ecstasy in his flat on Bewsey Park Close – although he never received payment.

Warrington Guardian:

This came after the 32-year-old ran up ‘significant debts’ from council tax and rent arrears.

His money troubles even saw him spend 14 days in prison when he failed to pay a £100 fine for fishing without a licence.

Sentence: Three years in prison

Samantha Gerrard

The prosecution alleged that Turner’s partner, of Jurby Court in Padgate, was a ‘significant’ piece of the jigsaw.

The 21-year-old supplied drugs, handled monies and calculated the income that would be generated by the organised crime group’s illicit dealings.

Sentence: Two-year imprisonment suspended for two years, a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement and 120 hours of unpaid work

Maria Beeby

Morgan’s then girlfriend, the 22-year-old – of Densham Avenue in Longford – and her step-sister Katie Newton were observed by undercover police transporting a package of drugs worth tens of thousands of pounds under his instruction.

Sentence: 21-month imprisonment suspended for two years, a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement, 80 hours of unpaid work and a victim surcharge

Katie Newton

The 32-year-old’s involvement in the gang was limited to the same single occasion as Beeby’s.

Defence barrister Phil Tully described Newton, of Poole Avenue in Longford, as ‘good and loving’ mum-of-four who is ‘well respected in the community’.

She ‘finds it difficult to understand’ her actions.

Sentence: 22-month imprisonment suspended for two years, a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement, 80 hours of unpaid work and a victim surcharge