360kg cocaine gang jailed after police investigation

A family and their criminal associates have been jailed for trading millions of pounds worth of class A drugs, including heroin, cannabis and hundreds of kilos of cocaine.

Ian Shacklady, 67, Gillian Melville, 66, and her son Alan Causer, 45, were investigated by officers from the specialist Merseyside Organised Crime Partnership (OCP), a joint National Crime Agency and Merseyside Police unit.

They and their co-conspirators John Germaine, 35, and Daniel Heeley, 32, were handed prison terms totalling 61 years on 3 April 2024.

To transport class A drugs around the country, Shacklady and Causer used a van containing a purpose-built compartment controlled by hydraulics that were activated from the cup holders.

 

 

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That vehicle was recovered on 15 September 2021, when, following a period of surveillance, OCP officers attended an address in Skelmersdale. ANPR data showed that the van had made over 40 trips across the UK.

Shacklady and his partner Melville were found counting cash inside a bedroom.

Within the room were multiple bags containing £254,695, as well as a number of elastic bands. A search of the rest of the property revealed a further £146,869 in cash, as well as cannabis with a wholesale value of £16,000.

The investigation proved that this discovery was only a proportion of the total amount made by the group.

Two ledgers were found at the address, containing lists consistent with the supply of at least 360kg of cocaine and 25kg of heroin. There were also entries showing the collection and delivery of more than £1.4 million in cash.

Germaine was identified partly through text messages, calls and the written logs, which showed that he had managed the supply of at least 12kg of class A drugs – either by arranging delivery or directing others to carry it out.

Shortly prior to the police arriving at the Skelmersdale address, he had responded to a request from Shacklady to provide “some elastic bands” to count and band cash. His fingerprints were found on money seized at the location.

Heeley played an integral part in the supply of large quantities of drugs to Morecambe and Barnard Castle, using three separate phone numbers to keep in contact with Shacklady, Causer and Germaine.

Causer, Shacklady, Melville and Germaine pleaded guilty to offences relating to the supply of drugs and the possession of criminal property.

Heeley pleaded guilty on the first day of trial at Liverpool Crown Court on 19 February 2024.

On 3 April 2024, Causer was sentenced to 18 years, Germaine was sentenced to 16 years, Shacklady was sentenced to 12 years and Heeley was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Melville received a 23-month suspended sentence.

Germaine was already in prison, serving nine years and two months in relation to the seizure of nine kilos of cocaine and over six kilos of cannabis by officers from the OCP. The drugs were stored in a unit in Burscough, and almost £18,000 in cash was found in his white Ford Kuga by officers from the OCP on 28 September 2021. The new sentence will be added on to the existing one.

Shacklady had previously served time in jail for his role in a separate conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Richard Harrison, Regional Head of Investigations North at the National Crime Agency, said:

“This was a significant crime group that according to its own records was trading in class A drugs worth millions of pounds.

“These criminals think nothing of the harm that the class A drugs trade brings to communities in the north west and all around the country.

“The NCA and Merseyside Police will continue to employ every possible tactic to target and disrupt organised crime groups, and ensure their members face justice.”

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