A Lancaster man who headed an international crime gang has been jailed for 24 years.
Dion Lee, 36, was responsible for organising a major drugs supply chain spanning the UK, Europe and South America.
He was arrested in Lagos, Nigeria, in September 2011 after three years on the run from police.
His extradition in May 2012 by Lancashire Police officers, in partnership with the Serious and Organised Crime Agency and the Nigerian Drugs and Law Enforcement Agency, was the first ever extradition of a UK citizen from Nigeria.
Appearing at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs, conspiracy to supply cannabis, conspiracy to transfer weapons and conspiracy to transfer ammunition.
Lee’s arrest was the 28th and final arrest in connection with Operation Greengage, which uncovered an extensive organised crime group operating across England, Scotland and Europe, with couriers importing high purity cocaine stored internally.
The cocaine was sourced from Bolivia and transported to the UK via Argentina and the European mainland.
Lee was the mastermind behind the scheme, heading up the Netherlands-based organised crime gang and linking in with the gangs in Preston and Scotland.
Twenty-seven other gang members from Preston, Lancaster, Leeds, Surrey and Poland have been jailed for a total of 348 years. Lee’s sentence brings this total to 372.
Detective Inspector Martin Kane, Lancashire Constabulary, said: “Lee’s guilty plea and subsequent sentencing brings to conclusion an operation that began in 2006 and which has completely shattered a large, sophisticated crime group, spanning the UK, South America and mainland Europe.
“In doing so we have prevented untold quantities of drugs and firearms being brought into Lancashire and indeed the rest of the country.
“Had those drugs and firearms been allowed to infiltrate our local communities, the consequences could have been incredibly serious.”