Man was at the heart of drug and money launder ring from within open prison

Damien Miller.
Damien Miller.

A man at the heart of a big drug and money laundering operation was masterminding the operation from within an open prison.

Eleven people have been jailed for almost 40 years for their part part in the supply of class A drugs and money laundering in Stoke-on-Trent.

The group was linked to a rise in violent incidents in the Staffordshire city and it emerged that Damien Miller was one of the key people controlling the group.

In September 2008 Miller, from Stoke-on-Trent, had been convicted for conspiracy to supply cocaine and was sentenced the following September to seven years imprisonment.

Miller went on to serve the latter part of his sentence at the HMP North Sea Camp open prison at Freiston Shore.

Officers say it later became apparent he was controlling his group’s criminal activity in Stoke-on-Trent from afar.

The prison governor and Lincolnshire Police then worked with Staffordshire Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit to bring Miller and his group to justice.

On a daily basis, as part of his rehabilitation, Miller left the prison to carry out employment in the area. But this was quickly established to be a cover as he was controlling individuals and organising them to supply drugs on his behalf.

Inquiries revealed that Miller was controlling the drug supply through a right-hand-man and he was accessing the bank accounts of others to enable funds to be passed from Stoke-on-Trent to Lincolnshire.

The gang were sentenced at Stafford Crown Court over the last two days (Thursday and Friday) after pleading guilty to various offences at previous hearings.

Damien Miller, aged 31, a Stoke-on-Trent man and serving prisoner, was sentenced to 10 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine.

Governor of HMP North Sea Camp, Graham Batchford, said: “HMP North Sea Camp is not complacent about prisoners who breach their licence conditions.

“Today’s outcome is proof that we will take every measure possible, including working close with the police, to ensure that those who fall foul of the terms of their temporary release are swiftly brought to justice.”