Drug gang sentenced to a total of 45 years


Seven people have been sentenced to a total of 45 years in prison yesterday (8 Sept) for their part in supplying drugs in Luton and Leighton Buzzard, after an 18-month investigation and one of the biggest armed police operations ever seen in Bedfordshire.

CPS Bedfordshire lawyer Natalie Carter said:

'The members of this organised crime group were relatively young people, who became immersed in the world of drugs. They formed part of a gang known as 'Workout', supplying class A drugs, such as crack cocaine and heroin. The gang, which was well organised and structured, operated in Leighton Buzzard and in two areas of Luton; Lewsey Farm and Hockwell Ring. 

'The group was headed by Mark Birch, with other family members, Cliveroy and Michael, also playing a leading role, together with Mark's partner, Alicia Murphy. Other members included Fabreece Mullins, who was responsible for the Leighton Buzzard operation, Mohan Rahman, and Ori Cyrille.

'The gang established a telephone 'deal' line in each of their locations. In Lewsey Farm they established a 'Flextel' line, which allows nominated phones to divert calls and enabled calls to be made to one well-known number and then diverted to the dealer. The telephone records provided key evidence in this investigation, which lasted some 18 months, as well as forensic evidence linking drugs seized from various premises.

'Partly due to the knowledge of this strong evidence, the defendants all pleaded guilty, with the exception of Michael Birch, who was convicted at trial on 4 August. The sentences today reflect the seriousness of the crimes committed. The CPS will continue to work closely with the Police to relentlessly investigate and prosecute those involved in drug dealing, which can lead to untimely deaths for many people. Ultimately, drugs will bring you down, one way or another.'

The sentencing hearing was the final part of Operation Paddle, which started in Spring 2009, with intelligence coming in that Mark Birch was sourcing wholesale quantities of drugs and controlled the distribution and receipt of proceeds. Det Insp Ged McCarthy, who led the operation, said: 

'It takes many months to put together an operation of this nature, so sometimes it can appear as if the police are not aware of what is going on or not able to do anything about it. However, these results today show that we can help, especially where members of the community have been so supportive of our work. We are always keen to hear from people who have information on where threats to a peaceful community life are coming from and we will act on them. 

'Other crime groups are being investigated by us at the moment and these people are certainly not untouchable they are just criminals who prey on the weak and deal in misery.'

After painstaking analysis of evidence and intelligence, the investigation team decided to arrest as many of the gang as possible on September 10 last year. They were known to carry weapons, and officers were taking no chances with safety. Over 400 officers were involved at the arrest phase, many of them armed, in raids that took them to 23 properties in Luton, Stevenage, Milton Keynes and Leighton Buzzard. During the raids a firearm, drugs and cash were found, and dangerous chemicals found at one flat - thought to be used in the production of drugs - necessitated the evacuation of all the residents until it was made safe. 

Mark Birch (24) of Chatsworth Court, Stevenage, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of Conspiracy to Supply Class A Drugs (Cocaine and Diamorphine). His girlfriend Alicia Murphy (22), of the same address, was given two years after she pleaded  guilty to money laundering.   

Michael Birch (20) of Rush Court, Leighton Buzzard, convicted of supplying class A drugs in August, was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Cliveroy Birch (20) of Park Street, Luton; Fabreece Mullins (18), from Walnut Tree, Milton Keynes; Ori Cyrille (19) of Wedgewood Road, Luton and Mohan Rahman (23) of Strangers Way, Luton all pleaded guilty to two counts of Conspiracy to Supply Class A Drugs. They were sentenced to six, seven, five and six years in prison.

Cliveroy Birch, Fabreece Mullins and Michael Birch

Cliveroy Birch         Fabreece Mullins     Michael Birch

Mark Birch, Mohan Rahman, Ori Cyrille and Alisha Murphy

Mark Birch               Mohan Rahman         Ori Cyrille           Alisha Murphy