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Operation Artemis: Unpicking the ‘wicked’ web of criminality

The men and women now behind bars for drug trafficking

Fourteen criminals have been jailed for almost 40 years for their parts in a drug trafficking operation which saw more than £1 million of cannabis brought to the Isle of Man.

The men and women, from the United Kingdom and the Island, all played roles within an organised crime group which Manx police say they have now successfully dismantled.

Operation Artemis, which ran between February and October last year, saw detectives pick off key players in the network.

It culminated in the arrest of the ‘main point of contact’ between those working here and those working in the UK; he was jailed for seven years in January this year.  

Today (2 February) the Isle of Man Constabulary has published details of how it took out the group and pledged its work to stop 'wicked' drug gangs won’t stop.

So who were the people taken down by Operation Artemis, what did they do and why?

 

1.  THOMAS HARRISON

From: Merseyside

Offence: Attempting to remove criminal property from the Isle of Man

Sentence: 8 months custody

Harrison, and a female associate, were stopped at the Sea Terminal as they were waiting to travel to the UK on 7 February.

They told officers they’d been visiting for a short break but had been forced to return home at short notice due to their daughter being ‘missing from home’.

Further enquiries showed Harrison had made 12 short trips to and from the Island between August 2021 and February 2022 – roughly one trip every two weeks; on each occasion he travelled in a vehicle.

Harrison returned to the Island on 23 February 2022 in a black Renault Twingo.

He was stopped at the Sea Terminal whilst waiting to board a return crossing the following evening; £47,530 was recovered from a sophisticated hide under the passenger seat.

He was sentenced to eight months in custody; after serving his sentence Harrison was transferred back to the UK.

You can find more on his sentencing HERE.

 

2. JAMIE GELLING

From: Isle of Man

Offence: Transferring criminal property

Sentence: 9 months custody

Gelling was arrested after being forensically linked to a carrier bag containing £11,730 of criminal cash which was seized from the hide in Thomas Harrison’s (1) vehicle.

CCTV showed Harrison receiving the carrier bag from Gelling. Gelling was bailed but fled to the United Kingdom and subsequently failed to appear at the Court of General Gaol Delivery.

After returning to the Island he was sentenced to nine months custody.

 

3. SHEILA STARKEY

From: Merseyside

Offence: Attempting to remove criminal property from the Isle of Man

Sentence: 17 months custody

Starkey travelled to the Isle of Man in a brown Volkswagen CC on 20 March 2022; she was stopped by police at the Sea Terminal whilst waiting to board a return journey two days later.

Officers recovered £92,610 of criminal cash from a sophisticated hide under the centre console of her vehicle. 

She was sentenced to 17 months in custody and has since been transferred to a prison in the UK.

 

4. KYLE BADLEY

From: Merseyside

Offence: Production of cannabis to the Isle of Man

Sentence: 3 years 2 months custody

Badley travelled to the Isle of Man in a black Mercedes B200 on 22 April 2022.

Police stopped his vehicle on its arrival to the Island; inside officers found 6,398.9 grams of cannabis secreted in a sophisticated hidden compartment.

The drug had an estimated street value of £127,978.

Enquiries showed Badley had made nine short trips to the Island prior to his arrest – on each occasion travelling with a vehicle.

He was sentenced to three years and two months in custody.

 

5. IAN BROADBENT

From: Merseyside

Offence: Production of cannabis to the Isle of Man

Sentence: 3 years 2 months custody

Broadbent travelled to the Isle of Man in a black Audi A5 on 23 April 2022 with police stopping his vehicle on its arrival.

Inside officers found two sophisticated hides containing 3,838.6 grams of cannabis; the drug had an estimated street value of £76,772.

Enquiries showed Broadbent had made five short trips to the Island prior to his arrest – on each occasion he travelled with a vehicle.

He was sentenced to three years and two months in custody.

 

6. JOHN HOUGHTON

From: Isle of Man

Offence: Concerned in the importation of cannabis

Sentence: 3 years 8 months custody

Houghton was arrested on 1 June 2022 after police attended the haulage firm, in Douglas, where he worked.

A sniffer dog indicated officers should search a pallet, addressed to Houghton, which contained a set of wheels and tyres; inside they found 11,645.7 grams of cannabis.

The drug had an estimated street value of £232,914.

Houghton admitted receiving £1,000 for agreeing to accept the package. He refused to name the others involved.

He was sentenced to three years and eight months custody.

 

7. STEPHEN WHITTAKER

From: Isle of Man

Offence: Production of cannabis to the Isle of Man

Sentence: 1 year 2 months custody

Whittaker was arrested on 17 June 2022 after a parcel was delivered to his home address which contained 1,995.1 grams of cannabis wrapped in Disney princess wrapping paper.

The drug had an estimated street value of £39,902.

He was sentenced to 1 year and 2 months custody.

 

8. GEORGINA POWELL

From: Merseyside

Offence: Attempting to remove criminal property from the Isle of Man

Sentence: Six months custody (suspended for 12 months)

Powell was arrested at the Sea Terminal on 3 July 2022 whilst waiting to board a sailing to the United Kingdom; police detection dogs had indicated officers should stop her.

She, and a female associate, had travelled to the Island two days earlier with their children.

Powell was searched and £11,940 of criminal cash was found hidden in a pushchair.

She received a six-month custodial sentence suspended for 12 months.

 

9. CHRISTOPHER CORKILL

From: Isle of Man

Offence: Producing cannabis to the Isle of Man

Sentence: 2 years 10 months custody

Corkill was arrested at his home on 21 July after receiving a package containing 4,028 grams of cannabis.

The drug had an estimated street value of £80,572.

He was sentenced to two years and 10 months custody.

 

10. CHRISTOPHER PARKER

From: Isle of Man

Offences: Possession of cannabis with intent to supply (x2), Possession of criminal property

Sentence: 5 years custody

Parker was arrested on 3 September after meeting with Moghal (11) at Corkills Garage in Onchan; Moghal had arrived on the Island the day before.

In Parker’s Volkswagen Transporter police found four bin bags containing 13.5 kilos of cannabis.

A subsequent search of his home found more cannabis, and cash, hidden in the kitchen and garden.

The drugs seized from Parker’s vehicle and property had a combined weight of 14,447.50 grams.

The cannabis had an estimated street value of £288,948.

£33,165 of criminal cash was also recovered.

He was sentenced to five years in custody after the court accepted that his involvement extended to receiving £500 to hold the drugs on someone else’s behalf so that he could pay off a large vet bill.

You can find more on his sentencing HERE.

 

11. BILAL MOGHAL

From: Greater Manchester

Offences: Producing cannabis to the Isle of Man and possession with intent to supply

Sentence: 4 years 8 months custody

Moghal was observed meeting Parker (10) on 3 September after travelling to the Island the previous evening.

He had paid £979 to bring a hire van over on the ferry and had travelled under the guise of a travelling salesman selling takeaway containers.

After giving four bin bags of cannabis to Parker he was stopped by police and arrested.

Moghal was sentenced to four years and eight months in custody.

You can find more on his sentencing HERE.

 

12. SAM LEIGH

From: Lancashire

Offences: Concerned in the production of cannabis to the Isle of Man, Production of cannabis to the Isle of Man, attempting to remove criminal property

Sentence: 32 months custody

Leigh travelled to the Island in a Blue Volvo C30 on 23 September – his vehicle was stopped at the Sea Terminal as he attempted to make his return journey two days later.

Police found £47,970 hidden under the rear seat.

Investigations showed the vehicle had travelled to the Island with at least 8.5 kilos of cannabis secreted within it; a deleted video from his mobile phone showed a hide behind one of the rear speakers being opened.

He was sentenced to 32 months in custody.

You can find more on his sentencing HERE.

 

13. ANDREW MCGILL

From: Isle of Man 

Offences: Concerned in the production of cannabis to the Isle of Man, possession with intent to supply

Sentence: 30 months custody

McGill was arrested on 18 October following a raid at his home; police found 36 packages of cannabis containing 8,563.5 grams.

The drugs were estimated to have a street value of £171,270.

£1,030 was also located in the attic along with drug paraphernalia which included vacuum packaging machines, digital scales and tick lists. One of these lists was found to correlate to a ‘Telegram’ message exchange between him and Dentith (14).

McGill was observed meeting with Dentith on number of occasions through August and September 2022 suggesting that he was dealing and holding cannabis on Dentith’s behalf during this time.

McGill admitted to this in police interview and disclosed that he had been directed to collect cannabis from Leigh’s (12) vehicle on 23 September.

Police suspect that the cannabis seized from McGill’s home in October represented the remainder of a larger commodity trafficked to the Island by Leigh.

McGill was charged, convicted and sentenced to 30 months in custody.

You can find more on his sentencing HERE.

 

14. GARRY DENTITH

From: Isle of Man

Offences: Concerned in the production of cannabis, concerned in the supply of cannabis, money laundering (x5)

Sentence: 7 years 3 months in custody

Police say Dentith played a ‘pivotal role’ as the organised crime gang’s main point of contact on the Isle of Man.

His fingerprints were recovered from a carrier bag and separate vacuum package found in Harrison’s (1) vehicle.

Dentith’s involvement in the wider conspiracy was established through communication linked to Harrison, Starkey (3), Powell (8), Leigh (12) and McGill (13).

On 25 September he was seen meeting Leigh in his vehicle.

On 18 October Dentith’s home was raided; police found £12,905 in cash as well as a number of plastic bags containing his handwriting.

This matched handwriting on cash seized in the earlier stages of the investigation.

Dentith was charged and convicted and was sentenced to seven years and three months in custody.

You can find more on his sentencing HERE.

The Other Two:

Police have also confirmed two other people were also investigated as part of Operation Artemis. 

  1. VULNERABLE ADULT

From: Isle of Man 

Status: Released with no further action

Arrested on 14 July following the delivery of 2,984 grams of cannabis to their home address.

The drugs were estimated to have a street value of £59,680.

The package linked back to Operation Artemis.

 

  1. ASSOCIATED MALE

From: Isle of Man

Status: On police bail

This man was arrested on 15 November following the delivery of five ounces of cannabis to his home address.

He came to police attention after he was forensically linked to a carrier bag containing a large quantity of cash that was recovered from Parker’s (10) garden. 

Police found 137.1 grams of cannabis bush. The drugs were estimated to have a street value of £2,742.

18.6 grams of cannabis resin, valued at £106.21, was also recovered.

He remains on police bail at this time.

 

You can find more on Operation Artemis by clicking HERE.

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