Two Eastbourne men have admitted being involved in a £2.5 million conspiracy to supply heroin after a series of drug raids across the country.
Paul Shannon, 60, of North Street, and Arthur Jones, 55, of Downs Avenue, admitted the charges after being arrested by detectives from the Organised Crime Investigation Team in Brighton.
The team led a series of raids on addresses in Eastbourne, Brighton and Liverpool on March 24 last year, resulting in 19 arrests and the seizure of £500,000 cash.
During these searches, which involved more than 100 police officers and staff, six kilos of heroin mixed with cutting agent were found and seized – which had an estimated street value of £600,000 – as well as three safes, said police.
Following the raids, 13 people were charged. During the investigation, the mastermind behind the operation 49-year-old Thomas Wynn, from Eastbourne, failed to answer police bail – said Sussex Police. His body was later found in Dubai.
Of the remaining suspects seven admitted their guilt before the start of the trial, and Jon Paul Swann, the son-in-law of Thomas Wynn, also pleaded guilty to his role within the conspiracy at the start of the trial at Hove Crown Court.
The court heard that over the period of the indictment couriers working for the gang made more than 50 trips between Liverpool and Sussex, bringing multiple kilos of drugs south for onward supply.
Detective Inspector Julie Wakeford said, “This case resulted from a long-term covert investigation into an organised crime network, supplying heroin from Liverpool onto the streets of Brighton, Hove and Eastbourne. This investigation is part of our continuing work aimed at disrupting the supply of drugs into Brighton.”
Lea Smith, 46, of Natal Road, Brighton, was found guilty at the conclusion of the trial of conspiracy to supply heroin.
Ronald Edwards, 50, of Chiddingly Close, Brighton and Sean Davidson, 49, of Downhill View, Brighton, were found not guilty of conspiracy to supply heroin.
The jury was unable to reach a verdict in respect of Louis Makai, 45, of Langridge Drive, Portslade.
Jon-Paul Swann, 33, of Colin Drive, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin at the start of the re-trial on 16 January.
Ian Gerald Frost, 48, of St Michael’s Place, Brighton, was found not guilty of conspiracy to supply heroin but admitted charges of dangerous driving and possession of cannabis from 21 August 2014.
Kingsley Walls, 44, who also had previously pleaded guilty to his role within the organisation, died of natural causes on the 23 December 2016, prior to being sentenced.
Lee Mack, 50, of Sheepcote Valley Caravan Park, Brighton, Andrew Antoniou, 58, of Dorset Mews, Brighton, Neil Ballad, 48, of Hangleton Road, Hove, joined Shannon and Jones in pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin. Julie Coltherd, 43, of Langley Crescent, Brighton pleaded guilty to money laundering.
His Honour Judge Anthony Niblett told Smith: “You have been convicted on very clear evidence of conspiracy to supply heroin into this city. We are fortunate in this city that we have police officers of such diligence and professionalism that they can disrupt the enterprise that you are an integral part of. You were linked in the closest possible way to Tommy Wynn and you were controlling the enterprise in this city.”
They will be sentenced at a later date.