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West Midlands drugs gang jailed for more than 40 years 

A West Midlands drugs ring which supplied cocaine across the UK has been jailed for more than 40 years after being snared by a covert police operation.

Ringleader Russell Turner was head of the Birmingham-based illegal empire and went to great lengths to hide his criminal activities - with officers believing he even swallowed a mobile phone SIM card to avoid his links being exposed. 

Russell Turner
Ringleader Russell Turner  - head of a Birmingham-based illegal drugs empire

However, Turner and his team of Class A dealers were rumbled by the West Midlands Regional Crime Unit (ROCU) who recovered large amounts of cash and drugs between October 2018 and January 2019.

Turner was observed meeting associates Reece Thornton (left) and Declan Gilsenan (right) and in Stirchley and appeared to hand over a package. Gilsenan and Thornton drove off and their vehicle was then tracked to a pick-up in Nottingham before being stopped in Newcastle. 

Thornton and Gilsenan
Associates Reece Thornton and Declan Gilsenan

More than £60,000 of crack cocaine was found in the car glove box and also hidden in a sports bag in the boot. Subsequent enquiries established Turner had directed them to Scotland. 

Joshua Houghton (left) and Brandon Newman (right) were also seen meeting with Turner later that same month and discreetly followed to a street in Walsall where drugs were believed to have been collected. 

Houghton and Newman
Associates Joshua Houghton and Brandon Newman

The pair were stopped in West Bromwich shortly afterwards and as officers approached the vehicle a package of 91 per cent pure cocaine was thrown from a window by Houghton; while Newman was found with keys to a stolen car.

On another occasion Turner was observed meeting with Noel Chisholm (left) in Kings Norton before one of his associates - Reece Sheeran (right) - handed over a parcel.

Chisholm and Sheeran
Noel Chisholm and Reece Sheeran

Chisholm left in his car and was promptly pulled over by officers who seized cocaine worth around £300,000. A search of his home also found a cannabis factory.

Furthermore, almost £35,000 of suspected drugs money were recovered from a van used by a known associate of Turner’s at services on the M42 last year.

Turner had twice previously been arrested on suspicion of unrelated matters and on each occasion his phone on him had been broken and with no SIM card - presumed to have been eaten.

The 25-year-old was established as the prime mover in the drugs ring and was charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs alongside the others.

Thornton and Sheeran were convicted following a trial while the rest admitted the offence. 

They were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday (20 March) - apart from 52-year-old Chisholm, of Selly Oak, who will appear for sentencing next month.

Turner was also convicted of possession of conspiracy to acquire criminal property in relation to the cash found at the service station.

Detective Chief Inspector Will Henley, of ROCU, said: “Turner was the ringleader of this drugs network which not only sought to operate in the West Midlands but further across the UK.

“We recovered a significant amount of cocaine which was destined to hit the streets and only cause further crime and misery within communities. 

“Through the diligent work of officers and our covert operation we were able to trace those at the heart of drugs ring to ensure it was shut down." 


Russell Turner (25) of Selcombe Way, Kings Norton, jailed for 10 years and six months

Declan Gilsenan (28) of Walls Road, Bromsgrove, jailed for six years

Joshua Houghton (22) of Mickleton Close, Redditch, jailed for five years

Brandon Newman (23) of Paddock Lane, Redditch, jailed for five years and six months

Reece Sheeran (28) of Dogpool Lane, Selly Oak, jailed for eight years

Reece Thornton (26) of Barnard Close, Rednal, jailed for eight years

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