A MAN who led a “sophisticated” drugs operation which included hiding cocaine in cigarette boxes has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Gary Proudlove, of Mold Road, Alltami, was the “ringleader” of a drugs operation in Ellesmere Port from December 1, 2012 to April 20, 2013, Chester Crown Court heard.
Brett Williamson, prosecuting, told the court Proudlove, 29, played a “significant role” in the operation and directed the drugs to street level.
But he managed to distance himself from the daily process of dealing by communicating with street dealers via a “graft” pay-as-you-go mobile phone.
Proudlove would contact street dealers with details of prepared bundles of drugs, worth about £40 each, and deliver them to be dealt on the street.
The prosecution said drugs were often hidden in cigarette boxes for dealers to pick up and sell on during late night deals.
One of the street dealers, Louis Bedwell, 25, of Durham Court, Ellesmere Port, allowed Proudlove to store the cocaine in his mother’s home on Maple Avenue, Ellesmere Port.
Proudlove ran the drugs operation alongside John Daly, 28, of Joseph Groome Towers, Ellesmere Port and surveillance taken out between January and April 2013 found both men entering and exiting Bedwell’s mother’s home address on a number of occasions, for just minutes at a time.
After a raid on the Maple Avenue address on April 19, 2013, 110
wraps of cocaine were seized which had been prepared for street deals with a value of £4,500.
Subsequent raids on Proudlove and Daly’s homes found no drugs, which Mr Williamson said was consistent with their roles as ringleaders.
Mr Williamson said the operation was a “process over a period of months” and had “real potential” to distribute large quantities of cocaine on to the street.
John Potter, defending, said Proudlove accepted the significance of his role but was just “a cog in a wheel, not some drug king or a high flying drug baron.”
Mr Potter said Proudlove began the operation to pay off a debt and to receive drugs for habitual use.
Yesterday, Proudlove and Daly were both sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison
Bedwell was sentenced to three-and-a-half years for his role as a courier of the cocaine.
Delivering the sentence, Recorder Mukhtar Hussain QC said: “This was clearly a sophisticated operation over a significant period of time. You clearly managed to separate yourselves from the storing and cutting of drugs.
“There is no doubt of the role you played in the operation was of a higher level.
“You were necessary, important and clearly involved.”