Saddleworth man jailed for involvement in million pound drugs conspiracy

A DELPH man has been jailed for 14 years for the supply of Class A drugs in the north west.

Lee Walsh, 34 and of Bakestones Avenue, appeared at Manchester’s Minshull Street Court, on Wednesday, May 17 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin, cannabis, amphetamine and ketamine at an earlier hearing.

The court heard how from March until June 2020, Walsh used an encrypted mobile phone, using the handle ‘Green Champ’ to communicate with a number of other organised crime group members to arrange the production, sale and importation of the drugs.

Lee Walsh

Following his arrest on June 9, 2021, investigations revealed hundreds of messages, with conversations showing Walsh owed about £130,000 in drug debts and was attempting to purchase a gun to protect himself.

Further messages revealed that he played a role in the importation of chemicals from all over Europe and the UK which would be sent to the ‘chef’, a term used for an individual who produces the drugs.

A large order of cannabis linked to Walsh was also found to be concealed in a shipment of chicken coming from Ireland which was intercepted.

The drugs seized

Detective Constable Rick McIvor, of Greater Manchester Police’s Tameside Organised Crime Unit, said: “This investigation is part of Operation Venetic, a National Crime Agency-led operation tackling serious and organised crime across the country and is one of the largest and most significant operations of its kind in the UK.

“The use of encrypted devices, which are utilised almost exclusively by criminals to be able to communicate openly about criminal activity, is becoming more and more popular and the technology becoming increasingly sophisticated, so we have to continually keep on top of the new technologies being used so that are able to recover key evidence that is used to bring these people to justice.

“Walsh played a significant part in the supply of drugs not only into Manchester but nationwide, and I am pleased that we now have one more criminal off our streets. Drugs destroy communities and we will not tolerate it.

“This sentencing is another positive step towards preventing organised crime and I hope it reassures our communities that we are committed to adapting and using innovative techniques to tackle this type of crime and the advances in criminal technology.”


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