Multi-million pound drugs ring flooded South Yorkshire with cocaine

NEWS: News.
NEWS: News.

A drug trafficking gang adopted code names from big-screen war epic Full Metal Jacket as they flooded South Yorkshire with cocaine, a court heard.

In the ‘highly-sophisticated’ multi-million pound operation Sheffield was dubbed ‘Saigon’ and Ecclesall Road was nicknamed ‘The Strip.’

Members of the gang transported the class A drug from Mexico to the city over two years, using nicknames inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 film Full Metal Jacket,

The criminal outfit was turning over between £400,000 to £500,000 every month at its height. Jurors at Sheffield Crown Court heard how police used surveillance, bugging devices and intelligence against the gang at the start of a six-week trial of Richard Norman Stead, aged 45, Frank Babar, 47 and Marco Martin Russo, 41.

Stead, of Greenfoot Lane, Wilthorpe, Barnsley, is accused of two counts of conspiracy to supply class A and class B drugs, while Barbar, of Richmond, Surrey, and Russo are charged with conspiracy to evade prohibition on the importation of a Class A drug. Barbar faces a further count of conspiracy to conceal criminal property between 2010 and 2012. All three deny the charges.

Prosecutor David Brooke said: “This case is about a large-scale importation and supply of controlled drugs, in particular cocaine, involving a great number of individuals.

“This trial is concerned with these three defendants – there is no dispute this criminal activity went on.”

South Yorkshire Police launched the large-scale investigation in August 2011 after tailing Carl Carlton in his car in Rawmarsh, where he picked up packages of cocaine with a street value of around £40,000.

After arresting Carlton and seizing his phones, officers attempted to trace the source of the drug, which was 80 per cent pure.

Mr Brook said: “The people at the top of these chains making the most money usually use others to make sure they are one-removed from the action. This is a classic example.

“Here the police were interested in tracking down the people at the top.”

A number of people have already pleaded guilty to their part in the set-up, including Paul Robinson, of Magnolia Close, Shafton, who was known as ‘Colonel’ in recognition of his senior role.

Barbar is alleged to have used the pseudonym ‘G-man’ and Stead was said to go by the name of ‘10 Seconds’ and referenced Full Metal Jacket, which follows a platoon of US marines in the Vietnam war.

“They’ve been both clever and incredibly stupid to use these nicknames as they gave police a very good idea of the part each member played,” added Mr Brook.

The trial continues.