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Michael Hopkins (21/08/1991) of Ivy Street, Manchester has been sentenced yesterday (Thursday 1 July 2021) at Minshull Street Crown Court to two years in jail after pleading guilty to one count of attempting to convey contraband into a prison and two counts of conveying contraband into a prison.
He has further been sentenced to nine months for suspended sentences which have now been activated in relation to handling stolen goods and dangerous driving.
On Saturday 3 April 2021, Hopkins was walking in a woodland area that surrounds the prison. He was seen to go through the undergrowth and jump the perimeter fence before he threw two packages over the prison wall - one of these packages was recovered from the exercise yard and was found to contain tobacco and lighters.
He was swiftly detained and arrested by officers who were stationed nearby and being fed information from the prisons internal CCTV system as part of Operation Dragonfire - an intelligence led multi-agency investigation targeting 'throw overs' of contraband.
Op Dragonfire has been launched between Greater Manchester Police (GMP), HMP Forest Bank, HMPPS and North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU), to further the work carried out by prison staff and to target the higher tiers of criminal networks here in Greater Manchester.
Hopkins was searched by officers and a further package was recovered, which was wrapped in blue tape and found to contain an amount of tobacco and cannabis.
During a police interview, Hopkins was shown CCTV footage of a man throwing two packages - one of which was recovered - over the prison wall two weeks earlier. He admitted that the man in the footage was him.
Overall, 384g of tobacco, 12.2g of cannabis and five A4 pages of psychoactive substance laced paper, worth an overall amount of up to several thousand pounds inside of prison, were recovered from the packages.
Hopkins claimed that on both occasions, he did not know the contents of the packages and had been told to throw them over by a man who he refused to name.
This sentencing is the result of one of the five investigations which are currently on-going under Operation Dragonfire in relation to prison throw overs.
Detective Sergeant Andrew Vizard, of GMP's Serious Crime Division, said: "Although the goods contained in these packages can seem harmless at first, contraband is a big problem inside of prisons and can make the prison an unsafe environment by allowing certain prisoners to have power over others and by providing items to trade which promotes prison gang culture.
"Any drugs entering the prison system can lead to further crimes being committed by inmates and pose a serious risk to the safety of prison staff.
"May today's sentencing act as a warning to anyone considering smuggling contraband into the prison system. Operation Dragonfire aims to target the networks that facilitate any contraband entering or leaving prisons and will prosecute anyone who is involved in such organised crime.
"As an intelligence led operation, we continue to rely on the public for information to drive our strategies and operations forward and will act upon any intel provided."
Matt Spencer, Director at HMP Forest Bank said: "This arrest and conviction shows that partnership working across criminal justice organisations in Greater Manchester is strong. Smuggling contraband into our prisons greatly increases levels of debt, violence and intimidation and will not be tolerated.”