An ‘untouchable’ Sheffield drugs baron who ran an international heroin and cocaine dealing ring from a luxury mansion in Thailand has been locked up for 20 years today - after a two-year police investigation.
Detectives said Craig Allen – whose convictions date back to 1975, and who was cleared of the murder of music promoter Lester Divers in Walkley in 2003 – ‘thought he was above the law’.
But the 50-year-old – dubbed ‘the ginger ninja’ and the ‘little fella’, and originally from Parson Cross – was today jailed at Sheffield Crown Court.
Judge Paul Watson described his drug dealing network as ‘major league’ and jailed three men who worked for him for a total of 35 years.
Jailing Allen he said: “This was a substantial criminal empire, at the very top of which was you.”
READ MORE: Drugs king was cleared of Sheffield killing.
Det Insp Craig Jackson from South Yorkshire Police, who led the investigation, told The Star: “Craig Allen is a sophisticated and determined criminal.
“He thought he was above the law, untouchable, and operating in a jurisdiction like Thailand gave him a degree of anonymity.
“But South Yorkshire and England will be safer places with Allen behind bars, there is no doubt.”
Allen’s drugs operation made him £5,000 a week to spend on life in a luxury mansion with a swimming pool in Thailand, with his Thai wife and child.
But his empire crumbled when he was arrested at gunpoint – outside Ikea in Amsterdam – by Dutch police last October, and extradited to the UK.
When police searched his Dutch flat they found three kilos of cocaine, a kilo of heroin, and 500,000 Euros in cash.
The evidence against him was so overwhelming Allen pleaded guilty on the first day of his trial to conspiracy to import and supply heroin, and conspiracy to supply cocaine.
David Brooke, prosecuting, said Allen was caught after five police operations in 2010 and 2011 which linked him to heroin and cocaine supply.
In total 22kg of Class A drugs worth £1m-plus were seized at locations including Leppings Lane in Hillsborough, the A57 Snake Pass, M1 junctions 37 and 29 at Barnsley and Chesterfield, and from two drugs mules who flew into Liverpool from Amsterdam with drugs hidden in their bodies.
“This was a prolific, determined and well organised criminal operation,” said Mr Brooke.
“In each case phone analysis shows Allen in a co-ordinating role, using a large number of mobile phones across various operations from Thailand.
“Again and again, as drugs are being exchanged or transported, those involved are in contact with Allen.”
Mr Brooke said Allen used 20 mobiles to supply dealers in Leeds, Manchester, Slough, Birmingham and Wales.
Adrian Waterman QC, defending, claimed Allen was only a ‘middle man’.
But DI Jackson said: “There’s no doubt as far as we are concerned Allen sat at the very top of the pyramid – a leading member of a number of organised crime groups.”
Steven Hudson, 43, of HMP Doncaster, was jailed for nine years; Leroy Grant, 50, of Old Trafford, got 18 years and O’Neil Davidson, 34, of HMP Manchester, was sentenced to eight years behind bars.
They all worked for Allen in the UK.
Allen’s ex, Selena Nickels, 45, of Scotia Drive, Manor, Sheffield, was also jailed today for six years.