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Gang boss flooded streets with drugs while girlfriend laundered cash

A man who lead a notorious drugs gang has been sentenced alongside his girlfriend who laundered the ill-earned money.

Christopher Williams, 32, was found to be the vital cog behind the drug conspiracy that flooded the streets with heroin and crack cocaine.

The significant crackdown operation, codenamed Furtim (which means ‘stealthily’ in Latin) by Cumbria Police, targeted gang members operating across both Merseyside and Cumbria.

Liverpool Echo reports that in total, six members of the Merseyside gang were caught by police officers, including Williams and his girlfriend Lauren Callister, 25.

Preston Crown Court heard how the gang were involved in the supply of Class A substances into the area of Barrow between November 1, 2019 and June 23, 2020.

They would travel between Merseyside and Barrow on a regular basis to deliver drugs and collect money, whilst recruiting people locally in Barrow, as well as individuals from Liverpool.

A phone line was used to set up a sophisticated drug dealing operation to send group messages to local drug users at various times of the day, advertising drugs for sale.

Once a drug user replied, they would be told a location to meet up to buy the drugs.

Detectives were able to identify the phone number being used for the transactions before investigations led to warrants being executed at multiple premises both on Merseyside and in Barrow.

During the raid at an address in Douglas Close, both Williams and Callister were arrested.

Around £2,000 in cash was recovered, along with numerous mobile phones and a master list of Barrow drug users.

At the trial, Williams was found to have taken a leading role, controlling and directing in an organisational capacity while Callister laundered the criminal cash via her bank account.

The other Merseyside members of the gang who were sentenced as part of the conspiracy were Paul McGovern, 40, of September Road in Anfield; Matthew Renshall, 28, Woolacombe Avenue, St Helens; Kyle Annett, 26, of Croxteth Hall Lane; and Liam Benfield, 30, of Blackhorse Lane in Stoneycroft.

The home of Annett, who was also found to play a leading role in the operation, was also raided and more than £800 recovered as well as snap lock bags, scales, white powder, around 3kg of cannabis and a debtors list.

Annett later surrendered himself to police.

Kyle Annett

A spokesman for Cumbria’s South Community Serious and Organised Crime Team said: “The Drugs Unit has an outstanding record of disrupting and convicting organised crime groups who set up in the area in an attempt to prey on vulnerable people for profit.

“The team works closely with colleagues in Merseyside to crackdown on these individuals.

“We will continue to relentlessly pursue those involved in serious and organised crime, arrest them and bring them before the courts for sentencing.”

Williams was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison while girlfriend, Callister, was issued with a two year community order.

McGovern was jailed five years, Renshall was jailed for six years, Benfield received five years and eight months while Annett was jailed for eight years.

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