Crime brothers who ran £7m empire tried to one up each other to gain mum's approval

Two drug-dealing brothers who ran a £7m empire constantly tried to one-up each other to gain the approval of their money-laundering mum.

The Fitzgibbon crime family are renowned for their criminal empire that imported multi-kilos of heroin and ecstasy from Turkey which they then distributed across their elaborate network.

Consisting of drug baron brothers Jason and Ian and money laundering mum Christine, they built a global network in their bid to become the top dogs of Liverpool's criminal underworld, reports the ECHO.

But the crime world they created recently came crashing down after an international police operation smashed an Istanbul drugs racket and followed the trail back to Merseyside where the family lived.

Reportedly the family went uncaught for so long due to mum Christine Fitzgibbon being an expert when it came to money laundering, and allegedly managed the brothers' criminal network like a business secretary.

She would book multiple flights for each trip in a bid to throw detectives off their scent and even advised them on exchange rates to optimise their profits.

The brothers' homes were moderate, but they drove plushcars. Conscious about the impression this would give out, Christine once scolded Jason when he parked a Porsche sports car on her driveway.

The family also enjoyed holidays at their luxurious villa in Spain, purchased for over £300,000, but refrained from additional lavish trips abroad due to fears of attracting police attention.

Although the Fitzgibbons, known locally as the "Fitzys", built their criminal empire on ecstasy and cocaine, heroin would prove to be their downfall.

The brothers were behind a plot to import 57kg of super-strength heroin from Turkey into the UK. But the scheme worth around £7m was foiled when a car with a boot full of the drug was found in Istanbul.

Intelligence from England to the Turkish police stopped the deal in its tracks and on September 26, 2011, five local drug traffickers were rounded up.

Investigations by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) traced the planned drug importation back to Liverpool, with suspicions falling on the family.

SOCA officers managed to plant a listening device inside the family home on Edale Road and over three years, they eavesdropped and recorded hundreds of hours of conversations.

The conversations recorded by the officers picked up the petty sibling rivalry between Jason and Ian who constantly bickered and sought their mum's approval.

On one occasion, Jason howled: "Whatever he can do mum, I can do 10 times better." Ian responded: "But who do you know over there lad. Who do you know? Who brought everything back? When has yours brought anything back? When?"

Christine Fitzgibbon
32 Eadle Road in Meryside, the home of Christine Fitzgibbon and brothers Jason and Ian Fitzgibbon -Credit:PA

Once police had built up enough evidence through their painstaking operation, they raided the family's home and discovered the matriarchal Christine was far from hard-up when it came to finances.

They discovered carrier bags containing £182,820 in cash were found hidden under the floorboards and in the central column of a dining room table.

Crime writer and former ECHO contributor Graham Johnson told Channel 4 News that the family had been "major players in organised crime for 30 or 40 years".

Speaking about how they stayed at the top for so long, Mr Johnson added: "They can be very intimidating and are very good at getting at witnesses, which is why the police find it very difficult to build cases, and they’re extremely good drug dealers, so it’s a recipe for success as an underworld crime family."

Appearing before Manchester Crown Court, prosecutor Paul Mitchell said: "The drug dealing involved huge quantities of both heroin and ecstasy. It involved the importation of multi-kilogram quantities of the drugs into this country and then the onward supply of those drugs.

"The scope of the enterprise was truly breathtaking. Those involved had established criminal networks not only in the United Kingdom but in foreign countries including Turkey, from where they were obtaining massive quantities of heroin."

In June 2013, Ian Fitzgibbon, then 39 admitted conspiracy to supply heroin, MDMA and money laundering, and was sentenced to 14 years six months in prison.

Jason Fitzgibbon, then 40 pleaded guilty to conspiring to import heroin and was jailed for 16 years.

Christine Fitzgibbon admitted money laundering and was jailed for two years.

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