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Five men have been jailed today (13 March) following a two week trial at Hove Crown Court for their part in supplying drugs onto the streets of Brighton and Hove.   The men, four from Brighton and two from Liverpool, were all charged with conspiracy to supply heroin following their arrests as part of an operation that ran in Brighton and Liverpool between September 2011 and February 2012.   Detective Inspector Julie Wakeford who leads Operation Reduction said: “This is a significant result for the fight against drugs coming into the City. A big part of Op Reduction is to target the main players and disrupt the flow of drugs – which has been supported by today’s guilty convictions and a kilo and a half of drugs with a street value of around £150,000 being taken off the streets. “The investigation into this particular group lasted for several months and involved plain clothed officers monitoring the group. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the officers from the Merseyside Matrix Units, for their assistance with this investigation. When tackling organised drug groups it’s essential to share information with other Forces and Merseyside played an important part in bringing all five defendants to justice.”

The court heard that on the 30 December 2011, Paul Croston was arrested as he came away from a drugs hide where approximately £40,000 worth of heroin was hidden in shrubbery on wasteland at the rear of Ladies Mile Road, Patcham. However, officers had taken the heroin and substituted it with a mixture of coffee and Coffee-mate and then watched as Croston, came back to pick up the drugs.   Then on the 6 January 2012 David Fitzsimmons and Gary Ord were ordered to go to Liverpool by Ian Edwards who was communicating with them from his prison cell via an illegal mobile phone. They travelled to Liverpool in a hire car to the home of Stephen Radcliffe, picked him up and then drove to a pub forecourt in Kirkdale where a kilo of suspected heroin was supplied to them.   After dropping off Radcliffe, Fitzsimmons and Ord travelled back to Sussex where their car was stopped by Sussex officers just outside Brighton and a kilo of what later turned out to be paracetamol and caffeine mix – cutting agents used in the supply of heroin – was found under the rear seat. Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Richardson, from Merseyside Police’s Matrix Team said: “We work with partners in different forces across the country to share information and best practice.

“We want those people involved in criminality to know we will work together regardless of force boundaries to bring you to justice, . We share a common goal – we want those people who blight our local communities, by supplying drugs, off our streets and we will work together to achieve this.”

The five defendants sentenced today are:   Ian Edwards, 29, unemployed of Haywards Road, Brighton, but originally from Liverpool. He was found guilty on Monday 11 March and jailed for 13 years.   Paul Croston, 24, unemployed of Cashman Lodge, Brighton, but also originally from Liverpool. He was sentenced to eight years. Croston had pleaded guilty following his arrest.   Gary Ord, 33, unemployed of Merevale, Brighton. Sentenced to four years. Ord had pleaded guilty.   David Fitzsimmons, 46, unemployed of Phoenix Rise, Brighton. Jailed for six years. Fitzsimmonds had pleaded guilty following his arrest.   Stephen Radcliffe, 44, unemployed of Guildford Avenue, Bootle, Merseyside. He was found guilty and sentenced to seven years.   John Smith, 36, unemployed, of Croylands Street, Kirkdale, Merseyside, was found not guilty.   Op Reduction, is the partnership initiative aimed at disrupting drug dealing and tackling drug abuse in the city. The most recent phase of which resulted in 54 arrests and the disruption of a South London drugs group who were bringing Class A drugs into the city with an approximate street value of £46,000.

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