Gang kingpin jailed for 26 years after unleashing campaign of fear and violence

4 September 2023, 18:39

Vanden has been jailed over a campaign of fear and violence
Vanden has been jailed over a campaign of fear and violence. Picture: GMP

By Chris Chambers

A gang boss who orchestrated a campaign of terror and violence across Salford and Greater Manchester has been jailed for 26 years.

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Nathan Vanden fled to Holland in October 2019 but maintained a criminal hold in Salford through the foot soldiers he recruited to do the dirty work.

Whilst hiding out in Holland the 33-year-old organised violent attacks against rivals or anyone who crossed him. This included shootings at properties, threats to throw grenades in houses, cars or business premises, cause serious injuries to people or threaten to slash them with knives if they didn't resolve or comply with his requests.

Criminals who worked alongside him would make contact to gain swift access to guns purely to settle petty disputes with their enemies and cause serious harm. Vanden was known for orchestrating this movement within 24 hours of the request coming in.

Read more: Man in his 20s stabbed to death in broad daylight on Brixton's Angell Town estate

Vanden has been jailed
Vanden has been jailed. Picture: GMP

The investigation led by Greater Manchester Police's (GMP) Serious and Organised Crime Group – codenamed Operation Drever – uncovered the true extent of Vanden's hierarchy and involvement within organised crime following a surveillance operation in April 2020 that led to the arrests of his associates and the seizure of encrypted mobile phones.

The operation resulted in the recovery of a black Glock 19 handgun found in a sock, a further Glock 19 handgun recovered following a firearms discharge and quantity of cocaine and cannabis.

Read more: Hundreds demand TikTok influencer Mahek Bukhari's account is disabled as she serves time in prison for murder

The evidence against the organised crime group was strongly linked to Vanden who sat at the top of the enterprise. A European arrest warrant was obtained by GMP and in May 2020 law enforcement partners in Holland arrested Vanden and he was extradited back to the UK in May 2021.

On Friday 1 September 2023 Vanden appeared at Manchester Crown Court to be sentenced to 26 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to cause fear and possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

Police recovered a set of firearms
Police recovered a set of firearms. Picture: GMP

Detective Inspector Rick Castley, of GMP's Serious Organised Crime Group, said: "Vanden terrorised the Salford and Manchester community using his foot soldiers to do his dirty work while he was hiding out in Holland.

"But when those soldiers began to be arrested it created a perception of fear and panic for how he could continue to operate his empire.

"Vanden said himself there were 'a lot of heat' on his men. This is because they were being watched by our officers while he was stuck in Holland reading on social media the arrests, guns and drugs being seized and knowing that would lead to him being incriminated.

"To get to Vanden we ran a covert operation on his organised crime gang. The evidence gathered against Vanden placed him at the top and we were determined to capture him no matter where he was hiding.

"Following a successful operation in Holland, he was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant and extradited back to Manchester to face his fate and to spend a long time hidden behind bars."

Seven other members of Vanden's gang have already been jailed, taking the total number of years behind bars to 85.

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