Nine members of an Organised Crime Group (OCG) who trafficked over a kilogram of Class A drugs between Merseyside and Kendal and the South Lakes – and caused devastation to local communities with their extra-strong heroin – have been jailed today (2 February 2023) at Carlisle Crown Court.
The investigation involved officers from Kendal and Lakes Neighbourhood Policing Team and detectives from the Community Serious and Organised Crime Unit working in close partnership to dismantle the ‘Scouse Tom’ OCG, after launching Operation Forfeit in January 2022.
Those sentenced today at Carlisle Crown Court include:
- Ryan Norton, 25, of HMP Northumberland. Norton was jailed for eight years and eight months
- Adam Taylor-Morgan, 22, of Kings Road, St Helens. Morgan was jailed for five years and eight months
- Taylor Green, 18 of Bretherton Court, Ratcliffe Place, St Helens. Green was jailed for four-and-a-half years.
- Natalie Underhill, 32, formerly of Sandown Court, Avenham Lane, Preston. Underhill was jailed for 35 months.
- Lisa O’Brien, 43, of Vicars Fields, Kendal. O’Brien was jailed for five years
- Sharon Hayton, 55, formerly of Bonner Court, Kendal. Hayton was jailed for 44 months
- Ashley Cudlipp, 30, of no fixed abode. Cudlipp was jailed for 32 months
- Martin Hornby, 47, of Main Street, Flookburgh. Hornby was jailed for 40 months
- Levi Dixon, 33, of Claife Avenue, Windermere. Dixon was jailed for 26 months
A tenth defendant – Carol McLean – is due to be sentenced at a later date.
All pleaded guilty at earlier hearings.
Between August 2021 and January 2022 officers from Kendal and Lakes Neighbourhood Policing Team conducted a number of warrants and positive stop-searches against ‘Scouse Tom’ street dealers, recovering supply amounts of Class A drugs, cash, and key mobile phones.
In January 2022 intelligence work identified the common link between the street dealers and Operation Forfeit was launched to target the OCG, with NPT officers and Serious/Organised Crime detectives working in partnership to identify the upper tier of the OCG as well as continuing to disrupt the OCG’s operations at street level.
By March 2022 each member of the OCG had been identified and the investigation team were closing in on the OCG’s leadership and key facilitators – culminating in the arrest of Adam Taylor-Morgan who was stopped with over £7000 in cash, having just left the home of Martin Hornby.
Detectives evidenced Ryan Norton – who at the time of the conspiracy was serving his second prison sentence for Class A drug supply – was running the operation from a prison cell in HMP Barlinnie using a series of smuggled mobile phones. Other members of the OCG fulfilled various roles, including:
Adam Taylor-Morgan – who operated the ‘graft’ drug advertisement phone, restocked the Kendal/Lakes OCG with drugs, collected the cash proceeds of drug supply, and was Norton’s ‘right-hand man’.
Taylor Green – who was a trusted ‘drug dealer for hire’ brought in from Aberdeen to run the OCG’s ground operations after police disruption action started making inroads into the OCG’s activities and profits in January 2022.
Natalie Underhill – who restocked the Kendal/Lakes OCG with drugs and laundered money through her bank account.
Martin Hornby – who stored drug restocks at his home, housed senior Merseyside OCG members, and operated as a street dealer.
Sharon Hayton, Levi Dixon, Lisa O’Brien, and Ashley Cudlipp – who worked as street dealers across the conspiracy period.
Our message to those involved in county lines drugs crime
Speaking after sentencing, Detective Inspector Jamie Eaton said: “Operation Forfeit was a significant operation which spanned many months.
“The aim was to disrupt and dismantle this Merseyside-based group trafficking Class A drugs into the Kendal and South Lakes area. Today’s substantial custodial sentences should serve as a warning to those thinking about establishing similar operations in our communities – we will catch you.
“We take a serious stance on county lines drugs criminals exploiting and targeting our communities and we will do everything in our power to put an end to these gangs operating in Cumbria.
DI Eaton continued: “Bringing ten offenders to justice meant this was a challenging and complex investigation from the start but the dedication and perseverance of the officers involved resulted in the great result we saw at court today, substantial quantities of Class A drugs prevented from reaching our communities, and the seizure of significant quantities of cash.
“We are not complacent and recognise before too long another group will be foolish enough to try their hand. The support of our communities in reporting drug dealing is a key tool in tackling organised criminality and we encourage members of the public to get in touch with any information that might help us.”
Anyone with information about drugs offences can call police on 101 or report online at cumbria.police.uk.
Alternatively, you can call the independent charity Crimestoppers, completely anonymously, on 0800 555 111.