Kingpin behind £2m drug gang used paranoid tactics to build empire

A paranoid and violent drug kingpin used a string of elaborate tactics to build his £2m empire before it was torn down by police.

Colin Jones was the "mastermind" behind a huge UK wide operation run by a group of Liverpool and Merseyside men who trafficked drugs into North Wales and as far as Scotland.

The 49-year-old was jailed this week for his role at the head of the gang and for orchestrating a plan to hire a hitman to "do a double one" on his former second in command.

He, and 17 others, were finally busted after police bugged his associate's car and heard them plotting to attack rival, Lee Murray.

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During the court case, which led to the 18 strong gang being jailed for a total of 147 years.

Over the last three days, Mold Crown Court heard how kingpin Colin Jones was the "mastermind" behind the operation, but was busted when cops bugged a car and heard him plotting to have a hitman "do a double one" on former gang member, Lee Murray.

Surveillance image of Colin Jones using his phone in Liverpool on 27/09/2018

Prosecutor Andrew Jones said that Colin Jones was a "shrewd" operator.

He would use registered and unregistered phones to contact his associates and the keep the operation off the radar of police.

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He would sweep premises for listening bugs when entering anywhere new and even employed an encrypted device similar to those used by the military and security services.

One of the most paranoid tactics Jones employed was to make his fellow criminals take a lie detector test, costing £150 each time, to make sure he could trust them.

One person he made undergo a test, was right hand man David Rawling, who claimed he was merely a "jumped up taxi driver" when arrested by police.

This came after Rawling and Jones hatched a plan against Lee Murray who they were sure was "skimming" money from the gang.

Jones and Rawling were jailed alongside 16 others who ran the county lines drug operation.

A spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution service said: "Eighteen members of a gang who ran a county lines drugs operation stretching from north Wales and Merseyside as far as Anglesey, Cornwall and Scotland have been sentenced to a total of nearly 147 years’ imprisonment, with individual sentences ranging from 4 to 21 years at Mold Crown Court.

"The Merseyside-based operation facilitated the supply and distribution of heroin and cocaine mainly in the Deeside area, using their Liverpool and Manchester connections.

"Drugs valued in excess of £2 million were sold over a twenty-month period.

Surveillance image of Colin Jones (L) and David Rawling (R) in Liverpool on 20/06/2019

"Lisa McCarthy of the CPS said: “As the evidence was examined, it became clear that the heads of the Organised Crime Group, Colin Jones and David Rawlings, were planning to cause really serious harm to Lee Murray, for what they described as “skimming” from the gang.

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“There was an extensive amount of material to consider and link to individuals in order to build a picture of the criminal network showing both their drugs activity and their intention to commit a significant act of violence against one of the gang members.

“Drugs bring misery to communities not only from their abuse, but also from the levels of violence and further criminal offences that can be associated with the illegal trade, and we will continue to work with law enforcement agencies to bring those involved to justice.”

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Due to scale of the operation being investigated, the CPS were involved in advising the police from the outset of the investigation.

Lisa McCarthy said: “Because of the scale and complexity of these investigations, we worked closely with the team of officers from the outset, in order to build a strong case.

“We looked at what evidence needed to be gathered and the possible lines of enquiry the officers could take, so that opportunities to preserve evidence were pursued.

“The case took many months of careful examination and preparation to be able to present a robust case before the Court.”

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