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Flocked up Drug lord Ian Shepherd known as El Shepo sentenced to 25 years in prison

"El Shepo" sold drugs on a "commercial scale" and was linked to improvised explosives

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Ian 'El Shepo' Shepherd

Ian 'El Shepo' Shepherd

Ian 'El Shepo' Shepherd

A drug lord dubbed "El Shepo", has been named in court as the head of a crime gang that sold coke all over the UK and London.

Ian Shepherd (44) , AKA "El Shepo", was described in court as running a "nationwide" drugs ring, and sentenced to 25 years.

Shepherd was nicknamed "El Shepo" after the infamous Mexican drugs baron Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, aka "El Chapo" ('Shorty').

In Manchester Crown Court, it was heard his alleged drugs gang organised drug meets from Glasgow to London.

It was also heard how the organised crime group was tracked by officers using number plate recognition software.

The gang used a safe house in Kirkby, Merseyside, while the police used mobile phone recognition to monitor their movements.

A prosecutor told the court there were "many significant meetings and exchanges" between the gang in areas such as Salford, Newcastle and Glasgow.

In the messages intercepted by the police it was heard Shepherd drove around the UK wearing a hi-vis vest to look like a tradesman, driving a Citroen Berlingo van.

An undercover non-uniformed police officer later bought the van and discovered a compartment in the back that was large enough to transport large quantities of material.

Then on May 19, 2019, after police executed a warrant to search an address belonging to Shepherd's mother-in-law, they found a large quantity of cocaine, as well as mobiles and cash.

The cocaine found had an estimated street value of over £1,600 and a .38 handgun was found with a silencer.

Shepherd, the court heard, was involved with a man called John Burkquest (37), a courier who was jailed last year for his part in the alleged crime network.

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Burkquest was arrested in in February, 2019, and it was heard that while he was in police custody Shepherd tried to contact him on his mobile phone on a number of occasions.

Defending Shepherd, solicitor Peter Hunter said his client had three kids, and had got involved in organised crime to provide a house for his family.

Mr Hunter said his client wanted "to apologise and show remorse. He wants there to be no excuses and he doesn't want to blame others., but he knows he's made a huge, huge mistake.

"He accepts he has played a leading role, but he wasn't the head of this organised crime group, It's obvious there were others involved."

However, Judge Anthony Cross QC said: "It's accepted that this group was led by you [referring to Shepherd.]

"It was involved in the supply of cocaine and heroin on a commercial scale throughout the United Kingdom.

"It was truly the work of an organised crime group operating on a national scale."

The judge added: "Not only are you a man heavily involved in the supply of Class A drugs but you are also a man who is able to procure, possess and distribute firearms .

"I reject that you were simply someone who stored firearms."

The judge added: "You wish to apologise and you rightly accept there's no excuse for your behaviour."

After Shepherd was arrested in July 2019, another address was searched by police in Kirkby and more weapons, including improvised explosive devices, ammunition and a sawn-off shotgun were found.

Shepherd pleaded guilty to two charges of supply of a Class A drug, conspiracy to possess a prohibited firearm and three counts of possession of a prohibited firearm. as well as possessing a prohibited firearm, namely the prohibited shotgun, possessing ammunition without a firearm certificate and possession of explosives.

He was sentenced to 25 years upon being found guilty.

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