A BURNLEY cagefighter who was the kingpin in a fearsome drugs and guns gang has been jailed for 16 years.
Anthony Diprose, who trained at Sinclair MMA in Plumbe Street, was the leader of the organised crime gang which ruled a Lancaster estate with fear and intimidation.
The 27-year-old, who clashed in the cage at the Burnley Brawl fight events, was arrested along with other members of the gang after a huge police investigation into drug dealing and money laundering in areas of the county.
Officers involved in the investigation initially carried out a series of raids in 2009 and 2010, acting on intelligence that the gang were involved in the supply and distribution of cocaine and other drugs. The raids also revealed that the gang had access to a variety of weapons, including firearms.
A Preston Crown Court trial heard how Anthony Diprose headed up the gang with younger brother Jason Diprose (26).
Other members helped to mix cocaine with adulterants, compressing the diluted powder using hydraulic presses and redistributing it to street dealers, while also storing drugs and firearms in their homes.
Anthony Diprose lived a lavish lifestyle from the profits of the drug dealing activity, buying designer clothes, expensive jewellery and a high-value car.
He laundered money with the assistance of various friends and relatives, who also stood trial for the offences.
The activities of the gang left many Lancaster residents – particularly those on the Ryelands estate where many of the group lived – appalled at the criminal behaviour occurring in their communities, but fearful to speak out about it.
Following a 13–week trial, gang leader Anthony Diprose, of Roeburn Drive, Morecambe, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine and money laundering. He pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation after clocking a Range Rover. He was jailed for 16 years.
The 13-strong gang received sentences totalling 67 years.
Supt Andrew Webster, of Lancashire Constabulary, said: “A group of criminals who had instilled fear in our communities through their illegal activities are now behind bars.
“While out on their daily patrols our neighbourhood officers would hear from residents about how they felt that their lives were being been blighted by the two Diprose brothers and their associates. Many felt threatened and intimidated by the actions and activities of these individuals.”
He added: “Operation Bespoke was put in place to disrupt this organised gang and smash the drugs supply chain that they had built up – a supply chain which in turn brought additional crime with it, as burglaries and other offences are often carried out to fund a habit. We hope that the sentences these criminals have now received show residents that Lancashire Constabulary is committed to listening to their concerns, tackling crime and disrupting organised crime groups.
“At the same time Lancashire Constabulary is sending a strong message to those involved in organised crime – you will be caught, put before the courts and face going to prison.”