A GANG who plotted to flood the streets with £1.6 million of drugs were caught red-handed after police raided their makeshift laboratory at a house in Radcliffe.
They were foiled due to an international probe by the National Crime Agency (NCA), which centred around the luxury Spanish villa of kingpin Neil Strong, aged 32, originally from Prestwich.
Police arrested Strong at the house in Woodvale Road, Radcliffe, the home of Damian Vose, aged 38, who was detained along with Paul Cuthbert, aged 45, of Harris Drive, Unsworth.
Their accomplice Daniel Pinder, aged 33, of Beechdale Close, Manchester, had been arrested two months earlier.
They appeared at Manchester Crown Court and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply amphetamine.
At a hearing on Friday, Strong was jailed for four years, Vose for 32 months and Pinder and Cuthbert 30 months each.
Afterwards, NCA’s regional head of investigations Steve Baldwin said: “Drugs destroy communities and these men had no regard for the misery and damage they would have caused.
“Our investigation does not stop here though as we are now working with our partners, both here and in Spain, to strip them of their criminal assets.”
The NCA said Strong was directing the plot from his villa in Alicante, southern Spain. The gang bought barrels of dangerous chemicals, including sulphuric acid and methanol, to produce pure amphetamine paste. But they were unaware the NCA were monitoring their activities.
Last August, they were about to start making their first batch of amphetamine, which would have had a street value of £1.6 million.
However, officers raided a makeshift laboratory in the garage of the Woodvale Road property — Vose’s house — putting an end to the operation.
They said Strong tried to evade arrest by jumping over a fence but failed. Cuthbert was found hiding in the undergrowth, while Vose was arrested inside his house.
Police found chemicals including 100 litres of methanol and 50 lites of sulphuric acid, an electric mixer, scales, a 10-ton press, a vacuum packing machine and other drugs paraphernalia.
They also searched a stables owned by Strong in Nutt Lane, Simister, and found more presses. At the Alicante villa, police discovered containers full of chemicals.
Mr Baldwin added: “The crime group had no idea they were under surveillance. When the time was right, we made our move and stopped them in their tracks. I have no doubt they would have gone on to flood the streets with amphetamine.”
The NCA, assisted by Greater Manchester Police, Cheshire Police and the Spanish Police, has confiscated properties and a yacht belonging to Strong.