Three members of the gang behind the largest haul of heroin ever found in Norfolk are tonight beginning a total of nearly 30 years behind bars.

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Drugs with an estimated street value of close to £2m were discovered when police raided the Swanton Road travellers site in Norwich after a 10-month surveillance operation.

Officers tracked ringleader Ivor Lee, 55, as he travelled to another site in Leicestershire to arrange the deals, followed closely by courier Paul Sayer, who collected packages of up to 4kg of heroin and brought them into Norfolk.

Assisted by Lee’s daughter Wanda, the gang could have brought up to 10 shipments into the county between October 2010 and their arrest in August 2011, which were then cut with other chemicals and sold on to the streets.

At Norwich Crown Court yesterday, Lee, of Swanton Road, Norwich, was jailed for 14 years after pleading guilty to conspiring to possess a Class A drug with intent to supply.

Sayer, 41, of Godric Place, off Bowthorpe Road, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and Wanda Lee, 29 and of Swanton Road, was sentenced to five-and-a-half years.

The court heard that police tracked hire cars driven by Sayer to a travellers site in Bagworth in Leicestershire to pick up the multi-kilo shipments of heroin, where he would often arrive several hours after Ivor Lee had visited to arrange the deal and make payment.

Sayer would collect the drugs from supplier Charlie Gaskin, delivering them to Lee, who then supplied it to street-level dealers around Norwich.

Police raided the Swanton Road site on August 16 2011 after watching Sayer return from Leicestershire with a package in a knotted pillowcase.

After he tried to discard it officers found within it six circular packs, containing 3.9kg of heroin of approximately 20 per cent purity.

In mitigation, the court was told that Sayer was a heroin addict who had performed his role in return for drugs, and that Wanda Lee had acted out of the “misguided loyalty” to her family.

Gaskin, 26, of Heath Road, Bagworth, Leicestershire, was found guilty of the same charge following a trial in July 2012 and will be sentenced in October once probation reports have been written.

Det Insp Gary Bloomfield of Norfolk Constabulary’s serious and organised crime unit said Ivor Lee, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine in Norwich in 1997, was a career criminal who had been “stopped in his tracks”.

He added: “It is also another step towards reducing the amount of drugs readily available on our streets which in turn protects our communities from the scourge of Class A drugs.”

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