Five men have been sentenced as part of a crackdown targeting the supply of drugs across Northumberland and Newcastle.
Those at the heart of the operation received combined sentences totalling more than 11 years – they pleaded guilty to crimes including conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Three other men, two from Ashington and one from Morpeth, received lesser sentences due to their smaller roles in the operation.
Northumbria Police acted on information supplied by members of the public.
During the course of the investigation, multiple searches were carried out. This resulted in the seizure of drugs, weapons and in excess of £61,000 in cash and other assets.
The five men were sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court last Friday, January 25.
Stephen Brown, 35, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to a total of six years and nine months in prison after admitting conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and possessing criminal property.
Malcolm Stappard, 46, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to four years and six months in prison after admitting conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs.
Phillip West, 37, of Wellwood Gardens, Morpeth, was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 24 months, after admitting possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.
Wayne Johnson, 35, of Somerset Close, Ashington, received a 12-month community order after admitting possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.
Matthew Flaherty, 34, of Rosalind Street, Ashington, received a 12-month conditional discharge after admitting possessing a controlled Class A drug.
A sixth man, Richard Blair, 41, of Petherton Court, Newcastle, was also convicted of possessing criminal property, but awaits sentencing next month.
Superintendent Craig Metcalfe welcomed the sentences, saying: “We set up a dedicated team in response to community concerns and as a direct result, we have been able to bring these five men to justice.
“I hope this sends out a clear and robust message – our officers are dedicated and persistent and we will continue to actively pursue offenders who look to take advantage of vulnerable victims.”
The activity to target such offending will continue under the banner of Operation Sentinel.
This has seen Northumbria Police working alongside Durham Constabulary, Cleveland Police and the North East Regional Specialist Operations Unit to tackle serious and organised crime.
Anyone who has information about drug dealing is encouraged to call police on 101, report it online at www.northumbria.police.uk or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.