The organised crime gang which flooded Grantham with drugs brought more than £1 million worth of heroin and cocaine into the town in just nine months, Lincoln Crown Court was told.
The gang, headed up by car dealer Jonathan Ferry, also brought in significant amounts of both M Cat and amphetamine and were set to make vast profits from their illegal activities.
Drugs were couriered in from Manchester and Nottinghamshire as a result of links made between the Grantham gang and other organised crime groups.
Matthew Lowe, prosecuting, said: “This case arises from the organised supply of class A and class B drugs that took place in the East Midlands.
“There was an established organised crime group based in Grantham. They purchased drugs in substantial quantities, in particular cocaine and heroin, from organised crime groups based in Manchester and Nottinghamshire.
“The Grantham group was headed up by Jonathan Ferry. He was an established class A drug dealer. He was the head of the criminal operation in Grantham sufficiently well established in his trade so that he was able to obtain the supply of heroin and cocaine in significant quantities.
“By January of 2014, the Grantham crime group was fully operating. When members of the group were arrested Ferry was able to recruit replacements with little interruption to his operation.”
Mr Lowe said that Ferry kept himself at “arms distance” from much of the drug dealing.
The court was told that police seized vast quantities of drugs during a series of raids but the gang was so well organised it simply carried on its operations with cocaine and M Cat being supplied from Manchester and heroin and amphetamine from North Nottinghamshire.
Mr Lowe said that police carried out detailed surveillance operations and in July 2014 officers raided the home of Jamie Darby in Princess Drive, Grantham, after a delivery of cocaine and M Cat had been couriered in from Manchester.
Darby and Stuart Frazier were caught red-handed as they divided up and packaged 1.5 kgs of cocaine. A further 1 Kgs of M Cat was found in the house. The drugs were worth around £100,000.
The following month Adam Higgs, described as Ferry’s right hand man, was arrested as he drove back to Grantham with a consignment of heroin.
Higgs met up with Retford man Tyrone Sly in the village of Long Bennington and was handed a package. Higgs was arrested on his return journey and police recovered 2.5 kgs of heroin with a street sale value of £137,000. The fingerprints of Sly and a second man James Straw were found on the package.
Within an hour of Higgs being released from custody he met up with Ferry, Sly and Straw in Newark.
On another occasion, three members of the gang used a room at the Urban Hotel in Grantham to divide up supplies drugs. One of the men seen going into the hotel was Martin Cooper, who at the time was on bail while on trial at Nottingham Crown Court for previous drug dealing offences. He had travelled straight to the hotel at the end of the day’s court hearing.
Police arrested all 13 of the defendants over a two-day period in October 2014.
When officers raided Ferry’s home in Larch Close, Grantham, they recovered significant quantities of jewellery and watches, together with £4,000 cash. Ferry’s £24,000 Range Rover was parked outside the property.
Mr Lowe said that Ferry headed up the gang but others involved played important roles including collecting, storing, preparing and distributing the drugs.
Mr Lowe said that couriers from Manchester had supplied cocaine on at least 13 occasions to the Grantham group with evidence showing that in the region of 1.5kgs of the drug with a potential street sale value of £90,000 was brought in each time. On one occasion Ryan Anderson, a drugs courier from Manchester, was found with £26,000 cash after being stopped by police on his way back over the Pennines after making a delivery.
Mr Lowe added that the heroin supplies were brought in from North Nottinghamshire area with up to 2.5 kgs with a street sale value of £137,000 being supplied at a time.
He told the court that it was estimated that at least 10 deliveries of heroin were made to Grantham. Nine men and one woman admitted charges of conspiracy to supply drugs between January 1 and October 23, 2014. They are Jonathan Paul Ferry, 46, of Larch Close, Grantham; Paul Hull, 47, of Grantley Street, Grantham; Adam Higgs, 24, of Shaw Road, Grantham; Ashley Toulson, 27, of Edward Street, Grantham; Stuart Frazier, 54, of Princess Drive, Grantham; Tyrone Sly, 46, of Bye Path Road, Retford; Ryan Anderson, 31, of Walmer Street, Gorton, Manchester; Martin Cooper, 31, formerly of Grantham; Francesca Moynihan, 23, of Hawthorn Drive, Salford; and Luke Smith, 30, of Goulden Street, Salford.
Three other men denied charges of conspiracy to supply drugs between the same dates but were convicted by a jury following a trial. They are James Straw, 50, of Petersmith Drive, New Ollerton, Newark; Jamie Darby, 39, of Princess Drive, Grantham; and Adam Gill, 29, of South Parade, Grantham.
Nigel Edwards, for Ferry, denied his client had made large amounts of money from drugs. He told the court: “On 4 December, following a long investigation, Mr Ferry was declared bankrupt. He has not a penny to his name.
“The prosecution have sought to establish Jonathan Ferry as a well-established class A drug dealer. In my submission there is no evidence of that.”
He said Ferry had convictions for over 50 previous offences but nothing involving drugs, adding: “He became involved in this because an issue arose and a window of opportunity became available to him.”
Andrew Stranex, for Hull, said he had pleaded guilty on the basis that he was a courier. He told the court: “He is somebody who is perhaps not the most sophisticated of people. His involvement was under the direction of others. There is no evidence of substantial gain.”
Chris Milligan, for Higgs, said his client was much younger than the others and was motivated to become involved by money.
“He got carried away with the lifestyle and was influenced and impressed by older, more sophisticated men,” he told the court. “He is very sorry both for himself and his family who he has let down.”
Chris Jeyes, for Toulson, said he was only involved in the supply of amphetamine. He said: “He had been working for an engineering company but he was made redundant. In the aftermath of that he took what was clearly the wrong course to become involved in this. It is something he very much regrets.”
John Harrison, for Frazier, said he was only involved for two weeks during July 2014 and was not one of those at the top of the organisation.
James Lake, for Cooper, said his only involvement in the conspiracy was for a brief time at the Urban Hotel. He told the court that Cooper is currently serving a 15-year jail sentence imposed at Nottingham Crown Court for drugs supply offences and urged he be given a concurrent sentence.
Michael Cranmer-Brown, for Darby, said he is a vulnerable man who has suffered mental health problems for a number of years. He said Darby played a lesser role in the operation and any jail sentence would have an enormous impact on him.
Mark Watson, for Gill, said he had played a lesser role and like Cooper had only been involved at the Urban Hotel. He said: “He has no previous convictions. He was involved in this conspiracy for little more than one hour. It was for a little payment or for cocaine as he was a user of that drug.”
Judge John Pini QC adjourned sentence until next month. The 12 men were remanded in custody and Moynihan was granted bail.