A drug-dealing gang which ran a professional operation from a flagship Preston park has been locked up for a total of 82 years
The gang – headed by Ryan Malik – had access to guns, which were hidden in a hollowed-out tree on the leafy fringes of Avenham Park.
They also used the landmark park as a hideaway to bury their drugs close to the surface of the ground.
During a 14-month surveillance operation, officers from Lancashire police witnessed the shocking sight of heroin and crack cocaine being peddled on a daily basis from the park, which plays host to family events such as the annual Easter Egg Rolling.
On one occasion, drug runner Reece Connor, 18, was seen handing rocks of crack to a young woman as her toddler sat beside her in a pushchair.
Another dealer, John Hope, 24, was seen cradling a child on the crossbar of his bike as he went about his drug-dealing activities in the park.
‘Team meetings’ were seen taking place at a house in Wolseley Place and underneath the Old Tram Bridge, led by Malik and supported by his ‘lieutenants’ Ruben Vitorino, 22, and Ashley Tunstall, 25.
But following a number of early morning raids on September 10 last year, officers made a series of arrests which disrupted the chain of command.
- For more on this story, see tomorrow’s paper