A GANG responsible for supplying crack cocaine and heroin with an estimated street value of £1.8m in Ellesmere Port and Chester have been jailed for a combined total of 55 years and 11 months.

Members of the gang were sentenced this week over three days at Chester Crown Court starting on Monday 28 September.

The ring-leader of the gang, Mark Cavanagh, of Foxdene in Ellesmere Port, moved to the town from Merseyside to launch his drug dealing enterprise.

He headed up the Cavanagh gang, which had two lines of operation – the Dell Line in Lache and the Dark Line in Ellesmere Port and often made trips to Wirral, Scotland and Greater Manchester to secure his commodity.

It is estimated that the gang was involved in the selling between 25kg to 50kg of class A drugs.

Cavanagh and his gang tried to use a number of techniques in an attempt to avoid detection such as using encrypted phones and regularly changing his vehicle from the likes of a Mini Cooper to a Jaguar.

‘Trusted lieutenants’ Karl Evans, Joshua Burns, Hakeem Stockton and Liam Roberts were granted access to graft phones and cash and often got involved in street dealing.

During the course of the 10-month investigation by Cheshire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), there were a total of 19 drugs purchases made by undercover officers working on the case.

A total of five safe houses were used during the course of the lengthy operation including addresses in Newnham Drive and Plemston Court, Ellesmere Port.

Officers also safeguarded a vulnerable man who had been targeted by the gang to deal crack cocaine and heroin.

The hard work of officers paid off during a strike day on June 16, 2020, when 18 men were arrested and 20 addresses raided across Cheshire – one of those arrested was Cavanagh.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs and appeared at Chester Crown Court on Monday, September 28, where he was sentenced to 14 years and six months in prison.

Cavanagh also pleaded guilty to a dangerous driving offence where he attempted to run an unmarked police car off the road in April 2020.

The following were also sentenced:

  • Joshua Burns – 50 months
  • Karl Evans – 66 months
  • Hakeem Stockton – 62 months
  • Liam Roberts – 70 months
  • Curtis McHugh – 22 months
  • Anthony Carr – 22 months
  • Adam Arthur – 26 months
  • Callum Watson – 22 months
  • Daniel Riley – 22 months
  • Wayne Galland – 24 months
  • Daniel Winning – 25 months
  • Shaun Winning – 58 months
  • Mark Griffin – 50 months

Detective Chief Inspector Mike Evans, from SOCU, said: “After this lengthy investigation, it is really pleasing to see the sentences passed down reflect the serious harm that these individuals caused their community.

“Cavanagh saw an opportunity to take over a small market town and have a monopoly over drug dealing in Ellesmere Port. His dangerous actions caused misery for anyone who got in his way.

“This operation shows how, when acting on information from local communities, we can bring down gangs who believe they are above the law.”

David Keane, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said: “This sentencing is fantastic news for the people of Ellesmere Port and Chester.

“The work has paid off for the officers involved in this case who have worked extremely hard to bring another drug dealing gang off our streets and make our communities safer.

“I commend the work of SOCU and hope that this acts as a deterrent to those who believe that they can get away with illegal drug activity in Cheshire.”