Police bust family-run drugs ‘empire’ orchestrated from inside prison cell

A family-run drugs ‘empire’ orchestrated from within a prison cell has been busted by Greater Manchester Police.

Four individuals from Tameside – Lee Burgess, 26; his brother Peter Burgess, 30; Sophie Burgess, 26; and Brogan Dean, 21 – were each sentenced today at Minshull Street Crown Court.

Headed by Lee Burgess from his cell in HMP Risley, Warrington, the four were responsible for producing and distributing tens of thousands of pounds worth of cannabis in the Tameside area.

The group was smashed by Tameside Organised Crime Team (TOCT) after they discovered the gang had been operating thanks to an illegal mobile phone smuggled to Lee Burgess in prison.

Detective Constable Joe Harrop, from TOCT, said: “Unlike the vast majority of people who work for a living, these four simply wanted to line their own pockets producing and peddling drugs.

“I am delighted this operation has been exposed and they have been punished for their criminal behaviour.”

Lee Burgess was serving time for a previous conviction of supplying a Class A drug, but police inquiries revealed he was still operating from inside prison, instructing his brother Peter on how to run the family business.

Brogan Dean, Lee Burgess’s partner, would collect profits on the gang’s behalf.

The gang pleaded guilty to offences ranging from the possession and supply of cannabis to possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply.

Peter Burgess, of High Bank Road, Droylsden, pleaded guilty to supply cannabis, possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply, production of cannabis and abstracting electricity at an earlier hearing.

He was also convicted of entering into a money laundering arrangement following a trial and was jailed for five years and six months.

Lee Burgess, of HMP Risley, pleaded guilty to supply cannabis at an earlier hearing and was also convicted of acquiring criminal property following a trial and was jailed for two years and ten months.

Sophie Burgess, of High Bank Road, Droylsden, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis and allowing her property to be used to produce cannabis at an earlier hearing.

She was handed a six-month suspended sentence and ordered to complete 120 hours unpaid work.

Brogan Dean was given a 12-month suspended sentence and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis, possession of cannabis and possessing criminal property at an earlier hearing.

On January 11 2013, police raided Dean’s home and uncovered more than £35,000 in cash, along with drugs paraphernalia.

Two months later, police swooped on Peter Burgess’s home, discovering the remains of a cannabis farm and several thousand pounds worth of high-purity cocaine.

DC Harrop said: “This was truly a family firm. These four individuals formed the backbone of an organised crime group responsible for the production and distribution of cannabis in the Tameside area.

“It is clear from the volume of cash we recovered it was a lucrative enterprise and it was almost certainly the lure of easy money that persuaded Burgess to continue to pull the strings despite being locked up for dealing drugs.

“It must be galling for people in our community to see drug dealers like this who can’t be bothered to find honest work driving around in flash cars and enjoying the wealth criminality can bring, so it’s a victory for our communities as much as anyone else to see these people brought down a peg or two.” 

DC Harrop also warned other gangs operating in Tameside that police would continue their crackdown on organised crime.

He added: “The Tameside Organised Crime Team works 24/7 to disrupt and dismantle the gangs that bring misery to the streets of our community and we will continue to target these criminal networks, using every available resource in our arsenal to bring them crashing down.

“Our message is clear – if you are involved in these crime groups in any way, we will be coming for you.”

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