THE ringleader of a major drug gang that flooded the streets of Exeter with heroin is still on the run.
Steven Blundell would arrange for huge sums of heroin to be sent from the North West to Devon and Cornwall.
This would be done via a number of couriers who would then pass on the supply to the local dealers and addicts.
Blundell, 34, was due to be sentenced along with several other members of the gang last week but did not show up at Exeter Crown Court. A warrant has been issued for his arrest and the public have been urged to call 999 and not approach him if they see him, or know of his whereabouts.
DC Jason Braud, who led Operation Raby that targeted the supply line and the gang, said that despite all their efforts Blundell remained on the run. He said: “Steven Blundell is still unlawfully at large and efforts made to locate him have failed so far. We still believe he is in the country but have not been able to track him down.
“We have made enquires with local officers in Liverpool and with friends and family there but they have been unable to locate him. Steven Blundell is a priority for us. We have utilised the press up in Liverpool and the Liverpool Echo ran a front page spread on him and the operation.
“It is vital that we can generate interest. We are effectively relying on the public for him to be found as at the moment he does not want to be.
“Someone is going to know where he is. He has travelled abroad previously but we believe he is still in the country. But we would encourage anyone who knows where he is, even if it is just a country, to contact us.”
Other members of the gang were jailed for a combined 70 years following an 18-month investigation by Devon and Cornwall Police’s serious organised crime unit.
Several of Blundell’s associates and gang members foot soldiers were sent down for a range of drug conspiracy and money laundering charges.
DC Braud added: “This gang was responsible for a major supply of heroin into Devon and Cornwall.
“One of those supply lines was going into Tiverton and had links to the Exeter area. One of the defendants was stopped at Tiverton Parkway with a quarter of a kilo with an estimated street value of £25,000.
“We know he completed 41 other such trips. It is difficult to say that on every trip the amount of drugs was the same, but it is clear that the removal of this supply chain certainly had a knock-on effect on the streets of Exeter.”
Following intelligence to target the group, Operation Raby was launched in September 2009 and ran until June 2011.