The sleepy village living in fear of a ruthless crime syndicate: How ‘The Godmother’ and ‘Mr Pickles’ turned remote farm into the ‘Wild West’ with drugs racket – and fugitive matriarch of the operation is now on Interpol’s most wanted list
A sleepy Welsh village is still living in fear of a crime family which built up a drugs empire from farmland even though two of its members have been jailed for 17 years and the matriarch is on the run, MailOnline can reveal today.
Three members of the notorious Leyson family used guns, knives and a pack of untrained Doberman dogs to threaten villagers suspicious of what was going on at their remote farm in Carmarthenshire, Wales.
One family was ‘visited’ by one of the Leysons and told ‘you will be killed’ if you report us to the police again. Other locals were warned their tyres would be slashed if they dared to call police. An off-duty police officer was even bitten by a Rottweiler after Stephen Leyson and his son Samson were jailed for drug offences.
Samson’s mother Lynne – the so-called ‘Godmother’ of the family’s criminal operation – is now on an Interpol wanted list after fleeing the country before she was sentenced.
The Leysons ran a drugs empire using quad bikes to run drugs through forestry to meet up with couriers at a designated spot on the A48 near Carmarthen. The family knew if the police were on to them they could escape through forestry tracks back to their headquarters.
A neighbour, too frightened to be named, told MailOnline: ‘It was like the Wild West living close to that lot – people were scared stiff. One family complained to the police and were visited by one of the Leysons carrying a shotgun. They were told they would all be killed if they complained again. Two of them may have been locked up but people are still frightened of them.’
The Leysons’ ‘farm’ near the village of Capel Dewi is nothing more than a collection of ramshackle wooden buildings and Portacabins
Farmer’s wife Lynne Leyson operated a hidden double life as the godmother of a family crime gang
Lynne’s husband Stephen Leyson (left) and his son Samson (right) were jailed for a total of 17 years in July after the farm was raided by police
The Leysons were running a large-scale drugs empire using quad bikes to run drugs through forestry to meet up with couriers at a designated spot on the A48 near Carmarthen. The family knew that if the police were on to them they could escape on their quadbikes through forestry tracks back to their headquarters called Pibwr Farm
The Leysons’ ‘farm’ near the village of Capel Dewi is nothing more than a collection of ramshackle wooden buildings and Portacabins.
Nearby are red kite nests, a trout stream and protected woodlands along with a £1.5million mansion and country cottages.
The Leysons moved in six years ago and at first annoyed neighbours by driving their second-hand Range Rover around country lanes.
Locals were suspicious of how the family made its money and there were rumours that they were growing cannabis on their land. They were nicknamed ‘the druggies’ by worried villagers who installed CCTV cameras to protect their rural properties.
Another neighbour said: ‘That’s how they were running drugs – they would turn up at an arranged lay-by on the A48, hand the cocaine over and be gone.
£15,615 of cannabis was seized by the police at Pibwr Farm, near Capel Dewi, Carmarthenshire
‘It was all over in a few seconds so it was very hard for the police to detect what was going on.’
Local builder Mark Jones, 42, said: ‘The first we knew was when police started flying a drone over the farm – after that there was a lot of police activity in the area. I didn’t know the people but they weren’t very popular, they would drive around the lanes as if they owned them.’
The Range Rover was seized by police along with the family’s pack of Rottweilers.
The family’s farm and its yard containing a large motorhome, silver Audi car, VW Beetle, Calor gas canisters and mountain bike is now deserted.
But a family member calls around every day in a Smart car to feed other pet dogs belonging to the three convicted dealers.
Locals in Capel Dewi said the Leysons lived two miles out of the village and everyone stayed ‘well clear’ of them.
Retired forestry manager Tom Emerson said: ‘Most people here avoided them, I met the older fellow once and didn’t make much of them. There were second-hand BMW and Mercedes going back and for and there was talk of drugs. But I didn’t even know they were in jail until I saw it in the local paper.’
Before their misdeeds were uncovered in Capel Dewi, the Leysons menaced another community 12 miles south in Kidwelly.
Here, with views of a Norman castle in the distance, the stench of cannabis coming from the ‘filthy’ home was unmissable.
The family had an ice-cream van from which neighbours hinted they were selling more than ice-cream.
Police recovered a 9mm semi-automatic handgun which was found stashed at the farm
The family claimed that cash seized by police was from a ‘house sale’
And if locals dared to call the police, they would wake the next morning to find the tyres on their cars had been slashed and deflated as a menacing Stephen glared down at them from the balcony.
The gang was caught with £60,000 of cocaine, £15,000 of cannabis and a 9mm handgun when police raided Pibwr Farm in Capel Dewi. Police also discovered two dealers in Pembrokeshire, who were working on behalf of the family to sell drugs, including one who was known as ‘Mr Pickles’.
Stephen, 55, and Samson, 24, were put behind bars for a combined 17 years, but farmer’s wife Lynne is still on the run three months after being sentenced for nine years, with it thought she might be in Thailand.
Neighbours would witness dozens of cars arriving at the farm at all hours and speeding away within minutes of arriving.
Villagers, once feeling safe tucked away in their sleepy village, became terrified by the law-breaking family and all went out and bought cameras for security.
After a decade of living in Kidwelly they sold up the home for £109,000 when men in smart suits had arrived days earlier and demanded money from Stephen, it is claimed.
‘They lived here for nearly ten years, they nearly put me in the [psychiatric] hospital, it was unbelievable,’ one former neighbour told The Times. ‘I didn’t want to stay here, but who was going to buy this house?’
Swansea Crown Court heard husband and wife Stephen and Lynne Leyson denied any wrongdoing when they were questioned.
Lynne Leyson was found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to supply cannabis, and possessing criminal property. A bench warrant was issued after she previously failed to turn up to court for sentencing – and she has now been jailed for nine years in her absence.
Judge Catherine Richards said: ‘Lynne Leyson has chosen not to attend her sentencing hearing. It appears to be a deliberate attempt to evade justice. She presented at trial as someone who controlled a number of people working for her in this serious offence.’
Stephen was jailed for 11 years for conspiracy to supply cocaine, possession of a firearm, conspiracy to supply cannabis and possession of criminal property.
Samson was handed a six-year sentence for conspiracy to supply cocaine and conspiracy to supply cannabis.
After the case, one neighbour said: ‘We just couldn’t believe it. They seemed like a normal farming family – well, a bit rough around the edges like a lot of country people. Lynne seemed very normal really – not a cocaine dealer like she was. It is all very odd.’
A Crimestoppers appeal said: ‘Arrest enquiries have been conducted at known addresses where Lynne is likely to frequent. These premises are across Carmarthen and parts of Swansea. To date these have been negative enquiries.’
A request is being made for Lynne Leyson, also known as Annelyn Caldicot, to be placed on Crimestoppers as a wanted person.
She is described as being 5ft 4in, with black hair, brown eyes, right handed, a surgical scar on her left leg and having a Welsh accent.
Anyone who sees her is asked to call anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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