A gang boss “terrorised communities” from afar after fleeing to Holland, a court has heard.

Nathan Vanden, 33, first fled to the Netherlands in October 2019 but managed to maintain control of his criminal network through foot soldiers.

Five of those foot soldiers were jailed last March for their part in a gun-for-hire plot centred around Radcliffe and last week Vanden himself was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court.

Detective Inspector Rick Castley, of Greater Manchester Police'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.

The Bolton News: Some of the guns and weapons connected to Vanden and his gangSome of the guns and weapons connected to Vanden and his gang (Image: GMP)

“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.”

The five men involved in the Radcliffe gun-for-hire plot jailed in March were Dominic Hughes, 29 of Glover Court, Leigh, Aaron Gray, 27 of no-fixed-abode, Craig Walker, 41 of Warrington Road, Wigan, Jacob Smith, 22 of no-fixed-abode and Ian Wharmby, 31 of no-fixed-abode.

During their case earlier this year, the court heard how Hughes had been the “custodian” of a Glock pistol, which was found by police hidden in a sock behind a fridge at Wharmby’s Radcliffe home after a raid in the early hours of April 27 2020.

The Bolton News: The five men jailed last MarchThe five men jailed last March (Image: GMP)

They were all jailed for a combined total of 47 years.

Nearly two years earlier, Samuel Binsteed, 32 was sentenced to seven years and six months for conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm, while 33-year-old David Hudson was jailed for four years and six months for the same offence.

According to Greater Manchester Police, the evidence against the gang was strongly linked to Vanden and a European arrest warrant was granted against him.

Vanden was arrested in Holland in May 2020 and extradited back to the UK in May the following year.

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DI Castley said: “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.”

He eventually pleaded 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.

On Friday September 1 last week, Vanden was sentenced to 26 years in prison.