TWO notorious drug dealing brothers who were set to flood the streets with £6.5m worth of heroin have been jailed for more than 30 years combined.
Jason and Ian Fitzgibbon, who both lived in St Helens, and their mother, Christine, were among five people caught after the authorities seized 57kg of heroin in Turkey and followed the trail back to the North West.
Jason, 40, of Ranworth Gardens, Sutton Heath, was largely responsible for importing the drugs, while Ian, 39, of nearby Heigham Gardens, Sutton Heath, took charge of supplying to them to the streets of Britain.
Prosecutors told Manchester Crown Court that drug dealing and money laundering under their control took place on an “enormous scale” between 2008 and 2011 - generating vast profits.
Amazingly, more than £180,000 in cash was discovered by police stashed underneath the floorboards at the family home in Liverpool.
The Fitzgibbons were traced after drugs were seized in a Turkish police operation on September 26, 2011.
After their arrest, the Turkish conspirators were heard arguing, and one was overheard making comments that police believed linked them to Jason Fitzgibbon, who had flown to Turkey several times.
The Fitzgibbons’ Liverpool home was subsequently bugged and evidence against them began to stack up.
Police say the Fitzgibbon brothers had criminal contacts not only in Europe, including Holland, Spain and Turkey, but also in South America, including Colombia and Mexico.
Jason was jailed for 16 years after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import heroin and money laundering, while Ian was jailed for 14 years and six months after he admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and ecstasy and money laundering.
Jason was already serving the first year of a seven-year term for a vicious assult on car dealer Michael Scraggs on a car park in Whiston.
Top investigators from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) told how Mr Scraggs had been lured to the car park before being struck with a wrench and stabbed.
Christine Fitzgibbon, 60, of Edale Road, Liverpool, was jailed for two years for money laundering.
Fitzgibbon associate Daniel Smith, 26, of Warren Road, Liverpool, was jailed for 10 years for admitting conspiracy to supply ecstasy, while another associate, Neil Williams, 32, of Wellington Court, Liverpool, was jailed for 21 months for money laundering.
Soca’s head of investigations, Matt Burton, told how Jason and Ian had effectively acted as the managing directors of “Fitzgibbon PLC” while Christine had been finance director.
He said: “The motive here was financial greed, status and notoriety and at the height of the investigation this was one of Soca’s top priorities in the country. They operated like a business but used violent assaults, to get what they wanted.
“There are young vulnerable people out there who might view these people as people to look up to. It’s important for us to show this is not the right path to be taking.”