The leading dealer, Michael Green, 36, was a homeless alcoholic who had spent half his life battling drug addiction.

Green was approached directly by Flanagan to deal for him and earned £160 per day.

He collected stock from Flanagan’s home address and sold the drugs on the streets. He sold to undercover officers three times between January and April last year.

For his role, Green claimed he was paid in drugs and got no financial rewards. The court heard that he ‘bigged up his role in the organisation through fear and bravado’.

Green’s most murky role was to drag his vulnerable 18-year-old stepson Thomas Jackson into the criminal operation. At the time Green and Jackson were both homeless and living in a tent. Green employed Jackson as his assistant paying him with ‘tokes of the crack pipe’.

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Shirley Kelly, defending, said: “Green has spent half his life addicted to drugs. He allowed Jackson to be present in the sale of drugs and deeply regrets allowing his involvement.”

Drug runner David Hunter, 36, was ‘sucked’ into Flanagan’s gang when he got into debt.

He drove an Audi and Ford Focus to Liverpool to collect drugs. Police monitored 72 trips but Hunter claims only 20 were for Flanagan’s business.

Myles Wilson, defending, said: “He was sucked into the world of drugs.

“He lost his home and his girlfriend and built up a debt.”

Drug dealer Joseph McGuire was so desperate to get out of Flanagan’s gang he attempted to rob a bank. The 38-year-old supplied undercover officers eight times between September and December.

Martin Callery, defending, said: “He had a bad drug addition and was so desperate to get out of this lifestyle he attempted to rob of a bank in Manchester to get caught and was jailed for four years.”

Stephen Day, 43, was a street dealer who supplied drugs twice to police. Myles Wilson, defending, said: “He was using drugs after a difficult break-up with his partner who had left him.”

Thomas Jackson, 18, was Green’s assistant and supplied to an undercover officer once in May. Eugene Hickey, defending, said: “He has had a difficult childhood and shows emotional immaturity.”

Adam Harrison, 29, and Daniel Mayers, 34, both supplied drugs to undercover officers once and had access to stock.