Whalley man is one of seven sentenced for drugs offence

Mr Nicola Ricioppo (67), of Clitheroe Road, Whalley, pleaded guilty to the production of cannabis. He was sentenced to two years and three months. (s)

Mr Nicola Ricioppo (67), of Clitheroe Road, Whalley, pleaded guilty to the production of cannabis. He was sentenced to two years and three months. (s)

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A pensioner from Whalley is one of seven men who have today (Tuesday) been sentenced to almost 15 years in prison collectively.

The men appeared at Preston Crown Court after previously pleading guilty to a number of drugs offences and were given sentences totalling 14 years and nine months.

Mr Nicola Ricioppo (67), of Clitheroe Road, Whalley, pleaded guilty to the production of cannabis. He was sentenced to two years and three months.

Ricioppo and the other six defendants were arrested and charged as part of Operation Galant, an investigation into drugs supply by members of the Langford family and their associates in Blackburn and Darwen.

The other defendants who received sentences were Kenneth Langford (48), of Cranberry Fold Court, Darwen, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis. He has been sentenced to four years and six months.

Daniel Langford (24), of Priory Grange, Darwen, who pleaded guilty to two counts of being concerned in the production of cannabis. He has been sentenced to two years and three months for each offence to run concurrently.

Benjamin Langford (27), of Brindley Street, Pendlebury, Manchester, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis. He was sentenced to two years and nine months.

Darren Burrows (41), of Anyon Street, Darwen, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis. He was sentenced to three years.

Michael Yates (63), of Holmfield Avenue, Blackpool, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the production of cannabis. He was sentenced to three months suspended for two years. He was also a given a supervision order to last 12 months and a curfew for six weeks from July 7th.

Jonathan Taylor (32), of Tunnel Street, Darwen, pleaded guilty to the production of cannabis. He was sentenced to four months and two weeks suspended for two years. He was also given 150 hours unpaid work.

Operation Galant is one of the biggest drug supply investigations in the area in recent times. The men involved were very organised and were responsible for a huge amount of cannabis and cocaine circulating in the area.

Det. Insp. Mark Vaughton said: “I am pleased with today’s sentences – they should send a clear message that we absolutely will not tolerate drug dealing in our communities.

“Between them, the Langfords and their associates have blighted Darwen and surrounding areas for too long, flaunting their criminal wealth and I hope these sentences reassure the people in this area that we will act on any information that is passed to us in order to make local communities safer.

“No-one is untouchable and we will continue to use all the criminal and civil legislation at our disposal to put individuals involved in such criminality behind bars.”

Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said the sentence would give reassurance to communities affected by the group, as well as sending out a strong message to young people of the consequences of criminal behaviour.

He said: “We cannot and will not tolerate any kind of serious and organised crime in Lancashire.

“Lancashire is a safe place to live and work, but we want to keep it that way and so I am pleased to support this Behind Bars campaign. I hope it acts as a deterrent, demonstrating to potential criminals that you will be caught and sent dealt with appropriately.

“I will also continue to work with the Chief Constable to make sure resources are appropriately distributed to allow officers to investigate and tackle drug and gang-related crime.”

Sophie Lorimer, Senior Crown Prosecutor for North West CPS said: “Today seven men have been given jail sentences for flooding the streets of Darwen and the surrounding areas with thousands of pounds worth of cannabis.

“The message is clear to those who are involved or are thinking of getting involved in the supply of drugs; they will not go unpunished. Not only can they expect to be stripped of their liberty, but we will also seek to strip them of any profits they have made from their criminal activities.

“We will continue to work closely with the police to bring to justice all those involved in gangs, drugs and firearms offences and clean up our streets for all law abiding citizens to safely go about their daily lives.”