Cocaine chopper | 

Drugs gang who flew class A drugs into UK in helicopter jailed

They rented secluded holiday homes along the flightpaths where the pilot could land and the drugs unloaded

A chopper used by the gang (Pic NCA)

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Six members of a gang who flew drugs into the UK by helicopter have been jailed.

They were part of an audacious operation overseen by Lance Kennedy, a Birkenhead gangster who arranged for helicopters laden with cocaine to be flown into southern England.

They rented secluded holiday homes along the flightpaths where the pilot could land, and the drugs unloaded, before it resumed its journey.

The plot was broken up under Operation Spoonbill, the Cleveland Police investigation that discovered the conspiracy.

Kennedy (32) was jailed for 18 years and four months for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Last week Gary McCarten, 38, Jason Wilton, 33, Dean Johnson, 52, Lee Moody, 44, Gary Huggins, 35, and Ryan Allborn, 29 were all locked up.

McCarten, of Wimpole Road, Stockton, played a leading role, Teeside Crown Court heard as he directed couriers and minders such as Johnson and Moody.

Wilton was "involved in the telephone contact and was aware of what was happening".

Johnson, of Orkney Way, Thornaby, worked under the direction of McCarten and Wilton.

He was described as having a "significant role" and acted as a courier of drugs and cash which he would store at his home.

Moody played a similar role to that of Johnson, acting as a courier and storer of drugs and cash, which he would also keep at his home at Armadale Close in Stockton.

Allborn was convicted of being concerned in the supply of cannabis following the recovery of his fingerprints from a kilogram package of the Class B drug that was among 10kg seized from Johnson after he’d collected them from Moody’s home on December 5, 2016.

Huggins was employed by Wilton and McCarten on December 6, 2016 to recover two and a half kilograms of cocaine from Moody’s garage.

Huggins turned up in a taxi and removed the box from the garage which contained the cocaine, worth more than £100,000.

He was arrested by the police returning to the taxi.

Judge Howard Crowson said the men were involved in a conspiracy that saw Class A drugs imported into the UK and then brought to the North East.

McCarten and Wilton were each jailed for six years and four months; Johnson and Moody were each jailed for five years and four months; Huggins was jailed for three years and six months and Allborn was jailed for eight months.

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