The head of an organised crime network responsible for distributing more than £9 million of class A drugs across Merseyside in less than a year has been jailed.
Stephen James Kelly, aged 44, attempted to stay under the radar of law enforcement by using a trusted courier system to distribute drugs and launder money. Together with his right hand man, David Seddon, aged 43, Kelly would give couriers specific instructions about drug deliveries and cash handovers, controlling every element of the criminal operation from a distance.
An National Crime Agency investigation into Kelly’s network began in January last year following the seizure of 230kilos of paracetamol and caffeine – a cocktail often used by drug traffickers to bulk out heroin and maximise profits. Experts believe this amount of bulking agent had the potential to be utilised in the supply of adulterated heroin with a potential street value in excess of £9m.
NCA officers working in partnership with Merseyside Police, Lancashire Constabulary and Greater Manchester Police, watched and listened as the couriers made their deliveries and collected cash. Between January and September, six of Kelly’s trusted couriers were arrested. Three were carrying more than £70,000 in cash and another had two kilos of cocaine.
Kelly and Seddon were arrested in October 2015 at their home addresses and charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin. In December 2015, Kelly pleaded guilty to both charges. Seddon was found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to supply cocaine, but acquitted of conspiracy to supply heroin. They were jailed for 15 years and four months and 11 years respectively.
The six couriers have been sentenced to a total of 10 years.
Jeremy Hope, Senior Investigating Officer at the National Crime Agency said: “Stephen Kelly distributed large quantities of class A drugs across Merseyside, with no thought to the harm his actions would cause. He was driven by profit and used violence and fear to control those working for him.
“The NCA and our police partners have disrupted a significant criminal network who thought they were untouchable”.