DRUGS conspirators who trafficked up to £73,000 of heroin and cocaine into Malvern were jailed after dealing to undercover police officers a year ago.

Gang 'commander' Nicholas Ward, his ‘right-hand man’ Aleksander Savcuks and 'runners' Anthony Clarke, John Kettle and Adrian Tipping were all jailed for conspiracy to supply class A drugs, a court heard.

The conspiracy lasted between November 1, 2016 and March 31, 2018.

Analysis of mobile phones indicated that the lower estimate for the value of the drugs sold during this period was £44,880 (0.31kg of class A drugs) and the upper estimate was £72,390 (a weight of just over half a kilo).

However, recorder Justin Wigoder, sentencing, said even this upper estimate was likely to be 'an underestimate' of the quantities of drugs involved.

Around 80 messages were sent out to users on days when dealing was taking place in Malvern. It was estimated that the dealers sold drugs five and a half days per week during the five month period.

This involved selling between 3.74g and 4.76g of class A drugs per day, making the dealers between £405 and £516 each time.

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The operation was foiled after the gang was infiltrated by undercover officers as part of Operation Ballet run by the Regional Organised Crime Unit as police were deployed in Malvern under the guise of being leaflet distributors.

At the time the court heard 77 other defendants were making their way through the court system as part of work to tackle county lines drug dealing in Worcestershire and Herefordshire.

Daniel White, prosecuting, said Ward operated what was known in Malvern as the ‘Nathan line’ over a period of 101 days as part of a county lines drug dealing operation.

It was being run from unregistered, pre-paid mobile phones, one of which was recovered from a Polo registered to Ward’s partner on March 12, 2018, after he fled police.

Mr White said the dealers retained the phone numbers of known users so that if one phone was seized they would have the numbers stored elsewhere.

Advertising messages were sent out to known addicts with words like ‘fire on!’ to indicate that drugs were available.

Undercover officers known by the pseudonyms Ian, Kyle and Mike infiltrated the gang which was being run by Birmingham-based Ward, a father-of-four.

In total the gang dealt drugs to the undercover officers on 10 separate occasions and sometimes were covertly recorded doing so.

“Mr Ward is the principal defendant within this investigation. He’s in command of this entire conspiracy,” said Mr White who went on to describe Savcuks as his ‘right hand man’.

Tipping was described as a driver involved in six of the 10 supplies to undercover officers, using his Renault Captur and Kettle was also a runner.

Former paratrooper Clarke was only involved on one occasion, claiming he only did it to pay off a £30 drug debt to Ward.

When an officer made contact with the Nathan line, Ward tried to vet him to see how the number had been obtained which Mr White said showed he was ‘tactically aware’.

However an addict known as ‘Denise’ vouched for him and an officer went on to make a series of purchases of class A drugs, including outside the Morgan garage in Malvern, Belmont Road, Spring Lane, ‘Vicky Park’ (Victoria Park) and the post office in Court Road.

Officers swooped on March 12 last year when the Polo linked to Ward failed to stop in Worcester.

Mr White described the Polo as being driven in a ‘dangerous manner' to 'escape capture’.

A black man, believed to be Ward, and a white man, who was not identified, were seen leaving the car in Batsford Road, Worcester. Inside the car was found the main Nathan Line phone.

Ward was arrested around three and a half hours later in St Peter’s, Worcester, described by officers as being ‘muddy and wet’.

Ward was arrested a second time on July 20 last year with an iPhone and a flick knife.

Mr White described how Ward 'violently resisted the officer' and had to be sprayed with Pava spray and handcuffed. As it was Ward’s third conviction for dealing class A drugs, known as a third striker, making him subject to a minimum sentence of seven years in jail.

At Worcester Crown Court in April 2019 recorder Wigoder jailed Ward of City Road, Birmingham, for nine years and disqualified him from driving for an extended period of five years.

Savcuks, aged 19, of Walsall Road, West Bromwich, was sentenced to 46 months detention in a Young Offender Institution.

The judge took into account his relative youth and lack of previous convictions.

Clarke, aged 53, of Langland Avenue, Malvern, was jailed for three years.

The judge said it was 'a serious aggravating feature' that he was dealing while on licence for a similar offence.

Kettle, aged 55, of Randwick Drive, Warndon, Worcester, was jailed for three years, his sentence reduced to reflect his serious medical conditions including emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis which means he is not likely to live more than three to five years.

Tipping, aged 61, of Buryfields Estate, Cradley, near Malvern, was jailed for three years and six months.

The judge took into consideration that he had not been in trouble since 1986 but said he had been the driver and was involved in six of the 10 deals to undercover police.

Recorder Wigoder also took into account that Tipping was a carer for his 83-year-old mother in Worcester.