John Appleton and Michael O’Mahoney were each jailed for 14 years yesterday for leading a complex cocaine and mephedrone racket from Cannock.
They supplied other crime syndicates in Stafford, Walsall, Redditch, Swadlincote in Derbyshire, and Swindon in Wiltshire.
Appleton and O’Mahoney were ‘wholesale’ dealers in high-purity cocaine to other crime groups, which was later bulked out the drug with other substances, Stafford Crown Court was told.
Undercover detectives kept the gang members under surveillance between November 2014 and June last year.
They followed ‘foot soldiers’ across the region delivering cocaine and mephedrone, a class-B amphetamine also known as M-cat or meow meow, that regularly reached street values of £15,000 per delivery.
But this was described as just a ‘snapshot’ of the size of their evil empire.
The pair pleaded guilty to multiple counts of conspiracy to supply class-A and class-B drugs.
Judge Jonathan Gosling said: “This case involves several organised gangs and co-operated in widespread supply of cocaine and mephedrone.
“A protracted police investigation caught 24 suspects in their net.
“It was a complicated network of criminals. At the head were seasoned gang leaders who were aware of police tactics and did all they could to thwart it.
“But the police put together a compelling case for which there was no answer.
“The inquiry revealed a very well run business which was run like any legitimate organisation.
“The operation was in Cannock and run by John Appleton and Michael O’Mahoney. They employed others to take the day to day risk.
“The clout these two men wield is obvious.”
He added: “Police made a number of seizures of drugs and cash but this only serves as a snapshot of the operation on that particular day and does not begin to show the full scale.”
Appleton, 46, of Locketts Court, Cannock, and O’Mahoney, 43, of Avenue Road, Cannock, were previously jailed for 10 years in 2007 for running a similar network across Cannock and South Staffordshire.
They were released in January 2012.
But the court heard they returned to drug dealing and ‘expanded’ their reach across the Midlands and into the south of England.
The latest crimes were committed while on licence.
Trusted lieutenant and drugs courier Jason Bayley, 45, of Leamington Close, Cannock, was sentenced to eight years after admitting multiple counts of conspiracy to supply class-A and class-B drugs.
Scott Kenny, 32, of Rugby, acted as a go-between for the Cannock and Stafford drug gangs and was found with a wrap of cocaine of 91 per cent purity.
He was sentenced to five years and four months after pleading guilty to supplying a class-A drug.
He was on life licence for a previous robbery.
Seventeen other defendants from across the Midlands will be sentenced today and tomorrow.