A judge has handed down sentences totalling 17 years to a gang of heroin ‘street dealers’ operating in the greater Portadown area who were caught in an undercover police operation.
Jailing the seven men and imposing a suspended sentence on the one woman at Craigavon Crown Court on Friday, Judge Patrick Lynch QC said while they were involved in street dealing, “these individuals made sure that drugs were readily available to anyone able to pay”.
“They are essential cogs in the drugs business, a business which wrecks lives and as the court has seen so often, has such deleterious effects on society,” he said.
Previous courts heard how the gang were arrested when “the police conducted a proactive investigation into the possession and supply of class A drugs in the greater Portadown area” between November 2015 and February last year which resulted in the eight defendants being arrested and charged.
Undercover cops calling themselves ‘Ricky’ and ‘Ian’ conducted a number of test purchases which were all covertly recorded and formed the basis of the Crown case.
Of the eight, all of whom were addicted to drugs the court heard, the only one to walk free from court was 23-year-old Amy Hunniford, Beechcote Avenue, Portadown, whose 15-month jail term was suspended for three years.
Judge Lynch told her he was satisfied hers was an exceptional case and at the lower end of involvement because she had driven her boyfriend Floyd Hobson (30) to three of the drug deals, pleading guilty to three counts of being concerned in the supply of class A heroin.
Hobson, from the Glebe in Portadown, kissed and hugged Hunniford before he was led to the cells to begin his 30-month sentence.
He had pleaded guilty to nine counts including one which was based “solely on his admissions” at police interviews.
Glen Carrol (32) from Navan Cottages in Armagh, who was handed a 27-month term, was described by Judge Lynch as a “facilitator” in the drug deals.
The other five are all Portuguese nationals. 41-year-old Paulo Jorge Santos, from Toberhewny Lane Lower in Lurgan, was given a 40-month term, the longest of the gang, for what the judge said was his “heavy involvement”.
He pleaded guilty to 11 counts including eight for supplying heroin and cannabis.
Nuno Pinheiro (30), from Montague Street, pleaded guilty to three counts, and was given a 27-month term, while Hugo Duarte (31), also from Montague Street, admitted four counts and was handed a 27-month term.
Marco Nicolou (37) from Churchill Park was handed a 36-month sentence after he pleaded to four offences of supplying class A as well as one of supplying class B cannabis. He has a drug trafficking conviction in his native country.
Helder Azeveso (53), from Hanover Street, who pleaded guilty to three counts of supplying class A, was given a 29-month term for his role as a “facilitator”.
Of the immediate jail terms to be served, Judge Lynch ordered that each defendant serve half in custody and half on licence.