TEN dealers behind a drugs chain which ran from Liverpool to West Howe in Bournemouth stashed class As in gift-wrapped boxes.

The ‘Scouse Porky’ gang flooded Dorset with cocaine and heroin delivered from Merseyside.

Couriers from the group would travel from Bournemouth to the north west to deliver cash and collect drugs, sometimes staying for just 40 minutes before heading back down south.

Initially, the dealers started transporting the drugs and cash hidden in car battery packs. However, after the arrest of one of the group, they changed their tactics, instead using gift-wrapped boxes and gift bags to hide the goods.

During a police stop-check in Liverpool, £25,000 cash was seized. It had been hidden inside a wrapped box.

After that, the gang changed tactics yet again. This time, ‘fixer’ Olatunde Ademuyiwa arranged for a recovery company to transport a Volkswagen Golf used by Thomas Garcia and James Brown to Liverpool on the back of a low loader.

There, it was replaced with a Ford Mondeo, which was returned to Bournemouth.

Another fixer, Stephen McDonald, was awaiting its arrival with Shaun Lewis. However, so were police officers. The two tried to run off but were arrested.

When the Mondeo was searched, £100,000-worth of heroin and £50,000-worth of cocaine was found hidden in the boot space.

Eight members of the group, including ‘Scouse Porky’ himself, pleaded guilty to their parts in the two conspiracies. The remaining two were found guilty at a trial last July.

The convictions follow an investigation by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU), working in partnership with forces in Merseyside and Dorset. Officers investigating the gang found they exchanged up to 300 messages every day with addicts from Bournemouth.

Detective Inspector Adrian Hawkins from the SW ROCU said: “Led by Thomas Garcia and James Brown, this group went all out to try and avoid detection and keep their ‘Scouse Porky line’ running, exploiting vulnerable adults to transport their drugs and cash along the way.

“They were regularly exchanging between 250 and 300 messages a day with drug users in Dorset, which shows the scale of their supply and the harm they were causing.

“All of this was managed from their homes in Merseyside – and even at one point while they travelled around Europe.

“The successful conviction of all 10 – including early guilty pleas from the key players – shows the strength of the evidence we secured against them, despite their best efforts, by working closely with the police forces at both ends of the ‘county line’.”

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Dilworth, of Dorset Police, said the force “will not tolerate county line drug dealers who attempt to infiltrate our local communities and prey on vulnerable people”.

“We will work tirelessly with partners and other law enforcement agencies to protect these communities and bring those involved to justice,” DCI Dilworth said.

Merseyside Superintendent Graeme Robson, area commander for Sefton area, said: “This crime group, like many before them, saw an opportunity to take their criminal business to areas they thought were a risk-free route to easy money.

“Today’s sentences show how wrong they were.

“Forces increasingly work together to share intelligence, carry out joint operations and ensure that borders are no obstacle to justice. Wherever in the country criminals attempt to operate, Merseyside Police and our partner forces and agencies will be there to investigate, and remove the risk and harm from whichever communities are affected.

“The issue of county lines is uppermost in people’s minds at the moment and we want to keep it that way. Recognise the signs and tell police or Crimestoppers if you suspect someone vulnerable is being criminally exploited.

“We will do the rest.”

The main members of the organised crime group were arrested in simultaneous raids in Merseyside and Dorset in November 2018, including Thomas and Sean Garcia, James Brown and David Murphy.

Merseyside men Thomas Garcia, 26, from Blackdown Grove in St Helens and Sean Garcia, 30, from Osborne Road in Liverpool, pleaded guilty to both conspiracies last January, with James Brown – or ‘Scouse Porky’ – 31, from Centenary Close in Liverpool, and David Murphy, 34, from Stranraer Road, Wigan, joining them the following month.

Thomas Garcia was sentenced to ten years, as was Brown. Murphy was handed five years in custody, plus a further eight months to run concurrently for possession of a stun gun. Sean Garcia was sentenced to six years in prison.

Stephen McDonald, 38, from Hanlon Close and Shaun Lewis, 27, from Leybourne Avenue – both in Bournemouth – and Richie McDonald, 35, from Granville Road in Poole, also pleaded guilty to both conspiracies in February 2019. Stephen McDonald was sentenced to eight years, while Lewis got seven years and four months and Richie McDonald was sentenced to 32 months in custody.

Dealer Carl Norton, 41, from Turbary Park Road, Bournemouth, changed his plea to guilty mid-trial. He was sentenced to 3.5 years for the drugs conspiracies and 18 months for two burglaries.

Olatunde Ademuyiwa, 31, from Purbeck Road in the West Hill area of Bournemouth and dealer Craig Biddle, 27, of no fixed abode, were convicted last July following a trial at Bournemouth Crown Court.

Ademuyiwa was sentenced to eight years in prison and Biddle’s sentencing was deferred.

Natasha Richardson, 49, from Russell Road, Bournemouth, was found not guilty of both conspiracies.