Two men who ran a large-scale cocaine dealing operation from house in a Leeds student area where they kept a gun have been jailed following an investigation by specialist detectives.
Officers from Leeds District Precision Team, which supports the force-wide Programme Precision initiative to tackle serious and organised crime that impacts on local communities, used covert tactics to target the pair in May and June this year.
Connor McGibbon, aged 32, of Hall Grove, Hyde Park, and Joshua Wilcock, aged 25, of Kings Road, Hyde Park, were jailed for nearly 20 years at Leeds Crown Court on Friday.
Both had pleaded not guilty to possessing a firearm but were each convicted of that offence by unanimous jury verdicts following a trial.
They had admitted charges of being concerned in the supply of cocaine and possessing criminal property, in relation to recovered cash.
McGibbon was sentenced to five years and six months for the firearm offence and six years and nine months for the drugs offence, with a 20-month concurrent term for the criminal property count.
Wilcock was given five years for the firearm offence and 30 months for the drugs offence, with a concurrent 12 months for the criminal property.
Officers initially focused their attention on McGibbon’s suspected drug dealing in the Armley area but soon established that Wilcock was operating a base for their operation from a terraced house in Harold View, Hyde Park.
On June 8, both men were stopped by police and found to be in possession of £10,500 in cash and mobile phones.
On June 23, McGibbon was stopped as he left the house in Harold View and was found with £2,500 cash, a small amount of cocaine and a safe key.
When officers searched the address, they found a safe, drugs cutting agent, scales and dealer bags.
The safe was opened using the key from McGibbon and cocaine worth around £10,000 was found inside.
A search of an upstairs room uncovered a bag for life containing a starter pistol converted to fire live ammunition.
Enquiries established that McGibbon was in charge of the operation with Wilcock instructed to deliver deals of cocaine to those wanting to buy it.
The house was used as a depot to dilute, weigh and package the cocaine for delivery.
Detective Inspector Phil Jackson, of Leeds District Precision Team, said: “The successful conclusion of this investigation is an excellent result which bolsters our ongoing work to target offenders involved in the organised supply of drugs in our communities.
“These two men have been shown to be prolific suppliers of cocaine at street level, who had access to a deadly weapon to protect their criminal trade.
“We hope the significant prison sentences that they have received will provide a stark reminder to those who think they can involve themselves in drugs and firearms crime without having to face the consequences.
“The supply of illegal drugs fuels crime and anti-social behaviour in our communities and damages and destroys the lives of those who take them and their families. We remain firmly committed to doing everything we can alongside our partner agencies to tackle the issue and keep people safe.
“Information from the community continues to play a vital role in the success of this work and we would urge anyone who knows anything that could assist us to get in touch, anonymously if needed via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”