DETECTIVES behind the capture of one of Torbay's biggest
drugs gangs have revealed that they also made the country's largest seizure ever of prohibited weapons.
It was thanks to a 'sophisticated and complicated' nine
month covert operation that the 'Mr Big' of the operation was forced to plead
Detectives recorded ringleader David Morrison organising huge shipments of
drugs and bragging about how he had anyone who crossed him beaten up. And when
police found and seized almost £86,000 in cash at a Preston garage he was recorded saying he had got away with his life
of crime for seven years.
Police say 'selfish and greedy' Morrison,40, lived a life of luxury, buying a home and
sports car in Thailand.
Now four of his gang are beginning long jail sentences, and
he is in prison awaiting sentence after admitting three offences.
He has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs;
possession of stun guns, and possession of criminal property.
The court was told Devon and Cornwall Police seized more
than £100,000 in cash from the gang, who had travelled to Liverpool to buy
Det Insp Dave Dale, of the Newton Abbot-based serious
organised crime team, said: "We have taken out one of the major suppliers of
cocaine into Torbay. It has made an impact because he was such a significant player.
"From our point of view I am very, very pleased. It's a
"Morrison is a person who by his own admission had been
operating for the last seven years in Torbay.
"He had been dealing in a large quantity of drugs and made a
vast amount of money. Not only did we catch him, but the rest of his gang,
thanks to a sophisticated and complicated operation. We used a variety of
covert tactics and as a result Morrison had no choice but to plead guilty."
Morrison and one other member of the gang, who was involved
in helping Morrison to trade in the lethal stun guns from Thailand, are still
to be sentenced.
A total of 68 of the devices, which are nearly three times
more powerful than police Taser guns, were seized in the operation.
DI Dale said: "These were dangerous weapons and clearly
there was a potential for fatalities around Torbay if any had been discharged.
We are not aware of that ever happening.
"I think we were lucky there were no deaths and that was
because we stopped more of these coming from Thailand.
"This seizure of a total of 68 stun guns remains the biggest
seizure of prohibited weapons in the country.
"The potential for harm these devices could have done in a
small community like Torbay would have been huge. There could have been
fatalities. Even the Judge agreed with this in court."
At the time the stun guns were seized police said they were
being sold to the drugs and criminal fraternity around Torbay.
DI Dale went on to explain how they had seized £85,980, hidden in a punch-bag in the garage
of Simon Parker's parents' former home in Southfield Avenue, Preston.
But he said some of that money has now gone back into the
community in Torbay. Under Government legislation to tackle organised crime, a small
percentage of the cash is given back to police.
"We have already made a contribution of £2,000 to Hayes Road
School in Paignton to create a sensory garden for able and disabled children to
"It's money taken out of the community by selfish and greedy
people being – now we are putting some of it back into the community to help
those people who are most deserving. Cocaine use does wreck children and families
lives. We see the consequences of that
all the time in our job.
"Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, which was set up to tackle
organised crime, we were given back some of the money we seized."
The police operation also seized 0.5kg (1.1lbs) of cocaine
described as 68 per cent pure.
DI Dale said: "The Judge was satisfied that this was only a
very small percentage of what they had been dealing. Morrison would have dealt
huge amounts of drugs over the years.
"On our surveillance he is heard bragging that he had not
been touched by police for seven years.
"He was dealing in everything: counterfeit clothing, mobile
phones, and drugs like Viagra."
Police say they were particularly pleased with the 10 year
sentence handed down at Exeter Crown Court on Friday to 34-year-old John
Minchinton from Brixham.
"He has been a thorn in our sides for a long time," DI Dale
admitted. "Minchinton is a well-known face around the Bay. We were chuffed with
his 10 year sentence."
The court heard that the stun guns work almost like a cattle
prod with metal prongs which give off an electric shock and cause a type of
See separate story for full details of the Exeter Crown