Sheffield drug dealers lose appeals over prison sentences

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Two Sheffield men jailed over a multi-million pound drug plot have failed to win an appeal against their sentences.

Joseph Fawcett, aged 27, and 25-year-old Tristan Clarke were each jailed for 12 years at Sheffield Crown Court in July last year after admitting conspiracy to supply cocaine and other drugs.

London’s Appeal Court was told they were part of a network which distributed high purity cocaine smuggled from Mexico.

They were among eight members of gang jailed for a total of 121 years in connection with the £25 million racket.

The crooks used nicknames from Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 war epic Full Metal Jacket, with Sheffield becoming the centre of the gang’s activities and dubbed ‘Saigon’.

Ecclesall Road, where they met regularly to discuss drug deals and receive deliveries, became known as ‘The Strip’.

South Yorkshire Police sprang into action after seizing cocaine of 80 per cent purity off the streets of Sheffield in 2011.

Officers used covert techniques to uncover the extent of the mens’ activities in an 18-month investigation which took them to the US, Spain and the Netherlands.

Mrs Justice Lang, sitting with Sir Brian Leveson and Mr Justice Keith, said: “This was a multi-million pound business.”

The drug network operated between 2010 and 2012.

Fawcett and Clarke were not the ‘prime movers in the plot, said the judge, but were each ‘trusted lieutenants’ of those on the upper rungs of the hierarchy.

She said: “They were fully involved and knew what was going on.”

The cour t heard Clarke, of Glen Road, Abbeydale, made sophisticated spreadsheets, prepared accounts and organised security.

Clarke had trained to become a teacher before becoming embroiled in the network to pay off his own drug debts.

Fawcett, of Montgomery Road, Nether Edge, ran a ‘safe house’ for narcotics barons where a ‘large cache of drugs’ was later discovered by police.

One police seizure alone involved about 17kg of cocaine, worth up to £1.7 million on the street.

Fawcett and Clarke challenged the length of their sentences, but their appeals were turned down.

Mrs Justice Lang said: “This is a social evil which blights lives. Those involved in dealing at this level must expect long sentences.”