THE final member of a Wigan gang has been jailed for 19 years today after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Lee Standen, 42, from Liverpool Road, Hindley, was jailed yesterday Thursday, November 9 and is the final member of the gang jailed.

In total, the gang have been jailed for over 80 years.

In 2020, police forces across the UK were handed hundreds of thousands of messages from a once encrypted messaging platform by the National Crime Agency, who, as part of Operation Venetic, had infiltrated the largest providers of secure, encrypted communications.

Leigh Journal:

Encrochat was used like a criminal Whatsapp, with messages detailing all sorts of illegal dealings, and now police had access into the minds and daily lives of the criminals using this platform.

With this data, specialist detectives from GMP’s Serious Organised Crime Group uncovered nine men from Wigan who were conspiring to flood the North with illicit drugs and weapons.

Police saw messages which detailed their entire operation, showing the lengths they went to concealing their criminal funds, and their methods of breaking down the drugs to maximise profits, mixing the drugs with any household products they could find.

During a period of March – June 2020, police discovered the gang were laundering over £200,000 cash, which was fuelling further criminality in the community and funding the gangs’ lavish lifestyles.

Leigh Journal: Cash seizedCash seized (Image: GMP)

On Tuesday, March 16 2021, officers executed 18 simultaneous warrants across Wigan at properties linked to the gang. Police seized a number of mobile phones, large volumes of luxury items and designer clothes and jewellery, snap bags of cocaine and cannabis, body armour, and crypto currency wallets.

The below defendants were sentenced last month, Monday, October 9 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs and conspiracy to possess criminal property.

Dean Smallwood (15/12/1979) of Landgate Farm, Bamfurlong, Wigan was jailed for 12 years and eight months.

Jamie Kenny (20/02/1990) of Ashwood Avenue, Abram, Wigan was jailed for 11 years and two months.

Leon Kenny (19/02/1991) of Warrington Road, Abram, was jailed for eight years.

Sam Causer (23/01/1990) of Egerton Street, Abram, was jailed for six years and four months.

Leigh Journal:

Nathan Hart (17/01/1990) of Warrington Rd, Abram, was jailed for six years and six months.

Ian Ormshaw (23/06/1979) of Mains Avenue, Bamfurlong, was jailed for five years and seven months.

Nathan Cooke (25/05/1991) of France Street, Hindley, was jailed for six years and four months.

Daryl Golding (23/08/1985) of Brookland Avenue, Hindley, was jailed for five years and six months.

Detective Chief Inspector Claire McGuire who leads the force’s Challenger team said: “These men were making really vast profits and living lavish lifestyles at the expense of vulnerable people across the north west.

“Our Serious and Organised Crime team conducted a long and complex investigation into their activities and over a two year period we were able to seize drugs worth millions of pounds, profits from which would have fuelled further criminality and exploitation had we not intercepted.

Leigh Journal: Seized goodsSeized goods (Image: GMP)

“These men were, to a degree, forensically aware and made many attempts to evade police detection. They reminded each other to wear gloves when handling the money, and the texts evidenced they knew some of them may be on the police’s radar. However, they believed these encrypted devices rendered them untouchable. Ironically, the steps they took to conceal their operation gave us a gold mine of evidence which secured their convictions today.

“I’d like to thank our colleagues at the CPS and prosecution Barristers who worked alongside us throughout the entire investigation and were so crucial to building a strong case and bringing all of the offenders involved to justice.”