A drug gang leader was brought down after police swooped on a block of flats in Stretford and found drugs, guns and grenades. Nathan Morgan, 37, managed the group and was trusted by those higher within the OCG to store high value and ‘potentially lethal’ weapons at the flats on Milton Close.
Morgan lived at one of the flats, but was also found with keys in relation to three others which were used to grow cannabis, store and safeguard the firearms and grenades. He exerted his influence over two of the flat owners, Brian Day, 49, and Sarah Tervet, 42, Minshull Street Crown Court heard.
Gareth Curtis, 34, worked under the instruction of Morgan, managing the storage of the items which were recovered during a seizure on January 28 2021. Around 36 hours before the police raid, there was a ‘flurry’ of contact between Tervet, Curtis and Morgan informing them of the police activity.
READMORE: ‘Game over g!’ Drug gang leader’s panicked text as police descend on flats
“The first [police] seizure consisted of a firearm and two live hand-grenades found in the storage cupboard located at Tervet’s flat. The evening before, on January 27, the police attended requiring authorization for a firearms warrant,” Jamie Baxter, prosecuting, said.
“There was a flurry of contact between Tervet, Curtis, then Curtis and Morgan. At one stage she asked the officers: “Is everything OK”. The prosecution says she was trying to get information and relaying it back to those in the organisation.”
Morgan was ‘clearly aware’ of the police presence and sent a number of messages to associates in a WhatsApp group including ‘they’re back’, ‘creepin’ about’ and ‘constantly be alert’.
When the warrant was executed at Tervet’s flat, they began searching an outdoor storage cupboard, during which she responded: “I don’t have access to that, I lost the key. I haven’t been in there for nearly two years. I just used it for Christmas stuff.”
Coming down the communal stairs, Curtis became aware of the raid and immediately booked a taxi out of the area. Upon searching the cupboard, officers found a black JD Sports bag containing a silver firearm, a magazine containing ammunition and a video cassette containing further ammo.
Two live grenades were also found, and DNA of Curtis was discovered on one of the grenades. Later that morning, Morgan messaged an associate stating: “they’ll probably start evacuating soon”.
He then sent images to an associate of the police activity on Milton Close with the caption ‘Game over’ following a story in the Manchester Evening News about the evacuation. He then proceeded to make internet searches on the MEN following the coverage of the ‘bomb squad’.
“Curtis was arrested at an address in Wythenshawe, in search of which recovered drugs and drug paraphernalia,” Mr Baxter said. “Across the morning on January 29, Morgan was still plainly nervous about the police presence and sent a WhatsApp to an associate stating ‘they didn’t even knock on mine’.”
Cocaine and steroid addled bodybuilder who called himself the ‘hardest c*** in the North West’ killed loving dad in an unprovoked nightclub attack
Police made their second significant seizure when undercover cops followed another alleged member of the gang, Graham Wellings, 56, and found two other grenades in his backpack as he cycled through Stretford following a visit he was said to have made to Morgan’s flat. Wellings has since been acquitted following a trial.
Two further firearms were found in a storage cupboard at Day’s address. Morgan was then arrested nearby as he left the flats and walked towards Portland Road. He was found with a number of keys and two mobile phones (one of which was a burner phone).
Officers searched his flat in which they found 300 grams of cannabis and digital scales, as well as a small amount of heroin, adulterant and more scales in a communal cupboard. One of the sets of keys gave police access to another flat, in which a kilo of class A drugs was found.
It became clear this flat was being used to cultivate cannabis as part of the drugs operation as nine cannabis plants were recovered worth £4,500, the court heard. Also found were two bullets wrapped in a glove and £3,000 in cash. The prosecutor said this flat was being used as a ‘base’ by Morgan.
Police then attended another flat within the block to find Day and another male, and found there to be ‘hallmarks of adulteration’ in that it was ‘devoted to drug preparations’.
Day also had keys to an outside storage cupboard, in which a supermarket bag was recovered containing two further guns which were identical to the gun found at Tervet’s flat. The following morning officers found more ammunition and a barrel to a black revolver.
Morgan, Day and Tervet were said to have limited previous convictions, whereas Curtis has previous convictions for possession of a prohibited weapon and section 18 grievous bodily harm.
Mitigating for Morgan, Damian Morgan said his client began using drugs and got into debt, and became involved in drugs to ‘temper’ the debt. For Curtis, Paul Hodgkinson said his client had been in custody for 18 years, but was not the same person he was back in 2004.
“He became addicted to class A drugs in prison, he was manipulated by others. Upon his release he was abused by others, ”Mr Hodgkinson said.
For Day, Saul Brody said his client suffered from a collapsed lung prior to the offenses and handed his flat key to Morgan when he was unwell. He said: “He accepted he had been gullible and said Morgan had a friend who used the room for something to do with drugs.”
In mitigation for Tervet, Andrew Nuttall told the court that she had no access to the cupboard in which the weapons were found, and had no idea they were there. He said she was fearful of refusing to assist. She was described in her presentence report as being ‘devastated’ and ‘remorseful’.
Morgan, Curtis, Day and Tervet will be sentenced next week for offenses of conspiracy to possess an explosive substance; conspiracy to possess a prohibited firearm; conspiracy to possess ammunition; conspiracy to possess an explosive substance; conspiracy to supply class A drugs; produces controlled drugs; and possession with intent to supply class B drugs.
See the latest court and crime news in your area by receiving email updates