Jailed for drugs gang role

Jailed: Craig Rooks
Jailed: Craig Rooks

A Todmorden-born drug dealer has been jailed for his role in a gang responsible for flooding the north west with £2.5m of drugs.

Craig Rooks, 46, was part of a 22-strong drugs gang jailed for a total of 90 years for flooding the region with cocaine, mephedrone, amphetamine and cannabis - all imported and distributed by the gang, led by Peter Bowden and his deputies Gordon Waters and Rooks.

The gang were arrested and charged following a complex three year investigation by the Serious and Organised Crime Unit.

The investigation, codenamed Sabine, uncovered a sophisticated criminal enterprise to import and distribute drugs which included smuggling mephedrone into the UK from China and cocaine from Holland. The gang used methods such as ditching mobile phones and changing the vehicles they used to try to throw police off. During the investigation police seized more than five kilos of cocaine with a street value in excess of £550,000, more than 30 kilos of mephedrone worth £300,000, 125 kilo bags of previously used packaging containing mephedrone worth £1.5m, more than 15 kilos of amphetamine worth £150,000, and two kilos of skunk cannabis worth £25,000.

Officers also found mixing tubs, a heat sealing machine and other equipment after raiding two industrial units at Back Ashburton Road and Leamington Road, in Blackpool, which were used as a lab for storing, preparing and mixing big quantities of drugs.

Det Insp Graham Gallagher said: “Bowden and his gang were responsible for a major drugs importation and supply network over a significant period of time into and around the North West.”

Two years ago the Todmorden News reported that Rooks and his former partner were ordered to repay almost half a million pounds of criminal funds, following a trial in 2010 when they were found guilty of money laundering and drug offences.

Judge Alastair McCallum ordered Rooks, now living in Division Lane, Blackpool, to repay £346,725.07.

The court heard that for his part Rooks had to sell his home at Badger Wood, Todmorden, and contribute a further £200,000 to cover the amount.

At the time he described the amount as “pocket money” to police after the confiscation order was handed down.

Rooks was labelled as the main instigator in the fraud, for which he was handed a nine-month suspended sentence at Bradford Crown Court.

He had also pleaded guilty to fraud and extra charges regarding possession of 663g of amphetamine and more than 400 diazepam tablets.

In this latest case all 22 defendants were jailed for a total of 90 years including:

Peter Bowden, 43, of The Glades, Lytham; Rooks; Gordon Waters, 45, of Clifton Drive, Blackpool; Mark McDonald, 30, from Merseyside; William McComb, 52, from Birkenhead; George Murphy, 47, from Preston; Aaron Pitts, 36, of Colwyn Ave, Blackpool; Simon Rimmer, 52, of West Park Drive, Blackpool; Richard Millington, 40, of Addison Road, Fleetwood; Jeffrey Wright, 41, of Victoria Street, Fleetwood; Jonathan Booth, 48, of Valentia Road, Blackpool; Naomi Booth, 36, of Valentia Road, Blackpool; Scott Walker, 24, of Low Moor Road, Blackpool; Michael Footit, of no fixed adrress; Kevin O’Connor, of no fixed address; Stephen Bull, 34, of Mowbray Road, Fleetwood; Christian Farram, 34, of Dinmore Avenue, Blackpool; Carl Taylor 31, of St Andrews Road South, Lytham; Dominique Halshaw, 25, of St Andrews Road South, Lytham; Glenn Knight, 27, from Merseyside; and Sair Hamza, 51, of Devonshire Road, Blackpool.

All pleaded guilty to various drug related offences at earlier hearings.