POLICE found a stash of amphetamines in a drug dealer’s underpants as they smashed a major St Helens-run drug ring.
Two local men, John Hardman, 38, and ringleader Michael Allen, 46, were jailed at Bristol Crown Court last week after both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply huge quantities of the class B drug.
The sentences followed a meticulous covert investigation in which detectives from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) tracked the St Helens duo and other gang members for several months – even using listening devices to eavesdrop on their conversations.
SOCA officers linked Allen, of Marsden Avenue, Newtown, with Cardiff drug dealer Amarajit Singh, 40, via middle-man Robert McVeigh, 64.
Hardman, of Kitchener Street, Newtown, acted as Allen’s right-hand man.
Surveillance of the gang began as McVeigh, who is originally from Liverpool, met Allen in Finsbury Park, London, in October 2009.
Subsequent observations revealed a series of meetings and telephone conversations between the gang members as they plotted a deal before McVeigh, in a coded message, told Allen: “That guy rang me about the motor this morning and he said he wouldn’t mind one. Can he have a little bit of time with it?
“OK, what should he do, drive up to you? I’ll ring you back in a few hours.”
Two days later, on July 1 last year, Singh drove up to Kitchener Street in a van for a face-to-face meeting with Allen.
Then, on the evening of July 28, Singh again drove up to St Helens, meeting Allen in the McDonald’s restaurant on St Helens Linkway, before both drove to Kitchener Street.
Singh was watched as he opened the van’s doors, looked all around him and then entered the back of the van wearing blue latex gloves before driving off.
As police moved in, he was stopped on the A580 East Lancs Road. Officers subsequently found 6.77 grams of amphetamines concealed in Singh’s underwear.
Two heat-sealed plastic packages containing nearly a kilo of amphetamines was also discovered on his vehicle’s rear wheel arches, concealed by a wooden panel.
A subsequent search at Hardman’s Kitchener Street address uncovered a drugs factory containing a large quantity of illegal substances and related paraphernalia.
Experts believed that all the drugs found, once cut with mixing agents, would have had a street value of more than £72,000.
Allen was jailed for two years and eight months and Hardman for one year and nine months.
Singh, of Walker Road, Cardiff, and McVeigh, of Loddon Way, Bradford-on-Avon, were each jailed for two years.