SELF-STYLED cage fighter, drugs gang leader and violent thug,
Anthony Diprose arrogantly believed that he was above the law but a police operation abruptly halted his activities.
Even following his arrest Diprose continued to plead not guilty throughout a 14-week trial at Preston Crown Court.
The 27-year-old was a regular at the gym and cut a menacing figure as the head of a sophisticated network which supplied drugs, principally cocaine.
Along with brother Jason, he ruled the Ryelands estate through fear and intimidation.
Supt Andy Webster said: “Anthony Diprose was a muscular figure who put himself up as a cage fighter.
“He sought to impose his will through intimidation and aggression.
“He made comments that he was too far up the ladder to be caught. I think that is a sign of the arrogance of the man and his belief he was untouchable.
“There was a gang culture at the top level, he thought he was above the law.”
Detective Sergeant Neil Drummond said: “He had created an iconic status for himself in the community.
“He thought nothing of stopping at the side of the road if an officer was talking with one of his mates which again shows that he thought he was so far removed from it that he thought we would never catch him or prove anything.
“We have sent a message that we won’t tolerate that activity in our communities.”
As he reigned over Ryelands – his reach also extending into the Skerton area of the city – Anthony Diprose led a cash-rich lifestyle.
Officers said their investigation uncovered that he had spent more than £81,000 on expensive cars, including a Range Rover Sport, £7,500 on a gold chain for himself, £5,500 on a diamond ring for his fiancée and £5,000 on holidays to Spain. He also wore a £5,000 Rolex watch.
However, police intelligence indicated that Anthony Diprose had no discernable income, his cage fighting career only amounting to a handful of bouts.
He told officers he was a car dealer but when cross-examined in court, was unable to tell the jury the miles per gallon of his £23,500 4x4 vehicle.
In an investigation that saw some 260 witnesses spoken to and 50 warrants executed, searches of several properties revealed the extent of the gang’s intimidation that funded their ringleader’s lifestyle.
Police found firearms, samurai swords, machetes and a taser gun along with the cutting agents required for cocaine production.
They also found a small amount of heroin and some cannabis in the properties alongside a number of lists indicating the quantity of drugs people wanted and who had, and had not, paid. Three dangerous dogs, pit bull breeds, were also seized and destroyed.
Following the raids extensive forensic analysis was carried out and linked several people to the crimes, including most significantly Anthony Diprose, whose fingerprints were found on a plastic bag.
Anthony and Jason were arrested on July 13, 2010 in an early morning raid and charged the following day.
Having thought they were above the law, both men are now just under a week into 16-year jail terms.