Two men who used their homes as safe houses to stash drugs for a crime gang have been jailed. The pair allowed crack cocaine and heroin to be stored on behalf of a gang’s leader who ran county-lines reaching into Greater Manchester, Wirral, and Scotland.
Dale Schofield and Wayne Roberts hid the drugs at their premises on behalf of the gang’s ring-leader Mark Cavanagh of Foxdene, Ellesmere Port. He was running an estimated £1.8m drug dealing enterprise in the Ellesmere Port and Chester areas.
The 32-year-old was operating under a county lines drugs conspiracy – using a phone line – known as a graft – to send text messages known as flares advertising the sale of crack cocaine and heroin and receiving drug purchases from local users. The Dell line in Lache, a housing estate in Chester, and the Dark line in Ellesmere Port were operated, while drugs were also sold in Wirral, Greater Manchester and Scotland.
Cavanagh was estimated to have been selling between 25kg to 50kg of class A drugs. In order to keep making a substantial profit Cavanagh enlisted those he trusted to be part of his organized crime group. Schofield, aged 39, and Roberts, aged 51, were responsible for housing the drugs and the money made from them. Roberts was also responsible for couriering the money and drugs for Cavanagh and his gang.
During a 10-month operation by detectives from Cheshire Constabulary’s Serious and Organized Crime (SOCU) Schofield was observed with Cavanagh and another man moving carrier bags of drugs out of the address. The bags were then placed into the man’s taxi for onward supply.
Schofield and Roberts were sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Tuesday 5 April after pleading guilty to assisting an organized crime group. Schofield, of Alverston Road in Liverpool, was jailed for 27 months and Roberts, of East Float Quay in Wallasey, was sentenced to 20 months.
Judge Everett told the pair that their role in the conspiracy cannot be underestimated and without them the ‘organized crime group can’t operate’. Detective Chief Inspector Ian Murray, from the SOCU, said: “Both Schofield and Roberts allowed their own homes to be used for storing crack cocaine and heroin as well as the money that was profited from its supply.
“The custodial sentences they received for their involvement should be a reminder to individuals choosing to be part of organized criminality. No matter how low in the chain they perceive themselves or their role to be, they can still face a prison sentence.
“This type of organized crime is known for exploiting vulnerable adults and children in order for criminals to gain an illegal profit. I want to encourage the public to keep familiarizing themselves with the drug dealing signs to look out for and to report it to officers as soon as possible so we can keep removing organized crime from the community.”
At Chester Crown Court on 16 June 2020 Cavanagh was sentenced to 14 years and six months for conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin and dangerous driving.
If you have information relating to drug activity taking place in your community, you can report it here https://www.cheshire.police.uk/tell-us or anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 and Cheshire Constabulary will do the rest .
To spot the signs of county lines criminality please click here Impact | Cheshire Constabulary
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.