|Criminal Family Sentenced for "Sophisticated" Drug Operation|
Gang dealt cannabis and cocaine from H&F for at least ten years
A Fulham woman and her two brothers are among a gang of six people who have been sentenced at Kingston Crown Court for running a drug operation and committing fraud from within Hammersmith and Fulham.
Sandra Lawrence, 45 of Ravensworth Court in SW6, was convicted of money laundering by transferring criminal property and given a 12 month community order.
Her brother James Lawrence, 44, was convicted of money laundering by possessing criminal property, and possession of a prohibited weapon, and was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment.
Meanwhile their brother, gang leader Michael Lawrence, 42 was sent to jail for eight years and six months after being convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to launder money, benefit fraud and mortgage fraud.
Michael Lawrence's common law wide, Tracy Lucas, 44, was also convicted of benefit fraud and was given seven months imprisonment. The investigation revealed that the couple were making a substantial amount of money from dealing drugs while claiming over £60,000 in benefits from the London Borough of Hammersmith Fulham ove the last five years.
In fact, they made so much profit, with over £500,000 going through their accounts, that they were able to purchase a £365,000 house in Surrey, and spend almost £40,000 on holidays in Orlando and Mexico, while continuing to claim benefits.
Though Michael Lawrence lived with Lucas in the house they bought in Grange Road in Chessington, police established he had "direct links" to an address in Henchman Street in Shepherd's Bush, which was thought to be the centre of the operation.
It was the home of Adam Gale, who was convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine and was sentenced to three years and three months imprisonment.
The gang, who were sentenced to a total of 15 years and nine months in prison on November 17, are thought to have been running their operation within Hammersmith and Fulham for the last 10 years and had enlisted the help of other criminal networks along the south coast, and in Essex and Manchester.
The sentences come after a lengthy pro-active drug investigation that began in May 2009 and was codenamed Operation Flatland.
Police say that on October 21 last year, they searched the address in Henchman Street, W12 and found around 1.5 kilos of cocaine, along with 25kg of Lignocaine, which is commonly used as a cutting agent in the division and supply of cocaine.
They also raided the home address of Lawrence and Lucas in Surrey, where they found a half kilo of cocaine, cutting agent and £3,000 cash.
On December 2 last year Michael Lawrence, Tracy Lucas, James Lawrence and Adam Gale were charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, money laundering and various fraud charges
Further enquiries revealed large amounts of money being moved from Michael Lawrence's account to that of Elliott Blackburne, who lived in Altrincham, Cheshire. On January 27 January this year officers from Hammersmith and Fulham's Drugs Squad, assisted by Greater Manchester Police raided Blackburne's home and found a shoe box in the boot of his car containing 8.56 kilos of cannabis worth around £20,000.
At this week's trial, Blackburne, 25 was convicted of conspiracy to launder money and possession with intent to supply cannabis resin and was jailed for 31 months.
Investigations then revealed the sixth member of the criminal network, Sandra Lawrence, had deposited £10,000 in cash in two accounts linked to Elliott Blackburne. She was arrested on April 1, and on May 18 was charged with two counts of money laundering.
Due to the weight of evidence against them, all the defendants pleaded guilty on all counts and police say their financial investigations continue.
Detective Sergeant Simon Rogers of the Metropolitan Police Service says: "These people were brought to justice as a result of the dedication and tenacity of the officers involved working with Hammersmith Council's Anti-Fraud team. Investigations into the assets of this network continue."
H & F Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Kevin Hurley says: " Drug Dealing is a big deal for the community and it is a big deal for us. The prison sentences together with the seizing of criminal gains is a clear message to drug dealers. Leave our borough alone, we take this crime seriously and we will get you."
November 19, 2010.