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Drugs gang jailed for total of 47 years

14/01/2011

Four members of a sophisticated drugs gang have been jailed for a total of 47 years after conspiring to smuggle 40kg of heroin into the UK.

Brothers Ian and AIan Farley, who led the smuggling ring, were caught after a 12 month operation by Merseyside Police. This culminated in a third member of the gang, Malcolm Lewtas, being arrested in Ramsgate with 10kg of heroin packed in 1/2 kg blocks.

Investigative teams also suspected Paul Merkelbach of running the Dutch side of the operation and were determined to bring him before the courts in the UK with the rest of the gang.

Police teams and prosecutors from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) worked with Dutch authorities to arrange a search of Merkelbach's home where a further 30kg of heroin was found, also thought to be bound for the streets of Merseyside and the North West of England where it would be worth around £2million.

Ian Davies, Head of the Complex Casework Unit, CPS Mersey Cheshire Group, explained: "This case was very complicated because we were dealing with an International crime group. We worked with Merseyside Police from an early stage to ensure the investigation and case evidence didn't breach any human rights or European legislation.

"Once we had our suspects arrested in the UK, we contacted the Dutch authorities to ask permission for officers from this country to go to Holland and collate evidence. When we were ready to charge, we issued a European arrest warrant and Merkelbach was quickly arrested by Dutch Police.

"It was crucial for us to get Merkelbach extradited to appear before the courts in the UK with his co-conspirators so that the court could see the full extent of their criminality. We received the full co-operation of the Dutch authorities and all four defendants pleased guilty."

Ian Farley, 43, from Anfield, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. His brother, Alan Farley, 38, was also jailed for 14 years. Both will be subject to travel restrictions for a further eight years upon their release.

Courier Malcolm Lewtas received seven and a half years and Paul Merkelbach was sentenced to 11 and a half years.

Davies said: "These sentences demonstrate the severity of the crime. Flooding Merseyside and other areas with this amount of drugs causes a lot of related crime meaning misery for  communities.

"The joint investigation and prosecution means that this gang is no longer blighting local neighbourhoods."

He added: "Our work doesn't end here. We are now working to ensure that any assets that have been acquired by this gang through criminal means are recovered so they don't profit from their crimes."

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