Six men are now behind bars after police smashed an international crime ring which smuggled drugs hundreds of miles from Spain into Forest Bank prison.
The ‘well-oiled plan’ saw cannabis flown into the Salford jail using a drone.
The gang were led by serving inmate Darren Dunn, who ran the elaborate operation from his cell inside Forest Bank.
Dunn, 35, co-ordinated five other crooks using an iPhone he had stashed away.
Their plot was uncovered after two members of the gang were stopped by Border Force officers as they arrived back on the ferry at Portsmouth.
When their car was searched, thousands of pounds worth of cannabis was found hidden in the boot and tucked into a spare wheel.
Now Dunn has been jailed for 10 years.
He is already serving a sentence of imprisonment for public protection, so will remain behind bars for a further spell.
Dunn, of no fixed abode, earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to convey articles into prison, conspiracy to import class B drugs and money laundering.
His accomplice Steven Roberts, 37, was described by prosecutors as the ‘man on the ground’.
He travelled to Barcelona on three occasions in October, November and December 2016, after ordering the drugs.
After Roberts purchased them in the Catalan city, Anthony Redmond, 59, and Michael Madden, 58, were responsible for transporting it back to the UK, the court heard.
Their first two trips in 2016 were successful, but the third proved their downfall as they were stopped by Border Force.
Redmond, of Agecroft Road, Swinton; and Madden, of Beechfield Road, Swinton; were arrested and later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import class B drugs.
Redmond was jailed for 20 months and Madden was sentenced to 11 months.
Around the same time, in late 2016, a drone was being used to smuggle drugs and mobile phones into Forest Bank.
Police officers saw Daniel White, 31, and another man, Sean Tierney, parking their car in Drinkwater Park and then assembling a drone about 10 metres from the exterior wall of the prison.
On another occasion, as police tried to arrest Tierney, who got away, a bag which he had been seen to wear was recovered.
It contained a drone and two knotted socks, which contained 15 mobile phones, more than £21,000 worth of Spice, more than £2,700 of cannabis and at least £4,000 of steroids, according to what they could be worth in prison.
After the drone was analysed, police found it had been used on 41 recorded flights, including four flights over the perimeter fence at Forest Bank.
White, of Camponia Gardens, Salford, was jailed for three years and ten months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to convey articles into prison.
Tierney, 25, of Littleton Road, Salford, was sentenced to 28 months in prison previously after admitting possession with intent to supply class B drugs.
The court heard that Dunn, who had been in ‘constant communication’ with Tierney, introduced Roberts to Christopher Paul.
In February last year, Paul’s car was stopped in Salford and he was arrested. About 1.4kg of cannabis was recovered.
Roberts, of Trenam Place, Salford, and Paul, 29, of Barkerhouse Road, Nelson, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import and supply class B drugs.
They have both been jailed for seven years and four months.
After the sentencing on Tuesday, Detective Sergeant Colin Shackleton, of GMP’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: “Their well-oiled plan was brought to an abrupt end when the drugs were discovered in their car.
“They thought they could outsmart officers by crossing borders to obtain the drugs, but we’ve shown we’ve got the experience and skill to bring organised criminals like this to justice.
“With every conviction we’re a step closer to taking dangerous drugs off our street, but ensuring results like today relies on people sharing information about criminal activity in their area.”
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