Seven men have today been sentenced to nearly 40 years for drug offences after being uncovered by a specialist team of officers from across the region.
They were all part of a conspiracy to supply Gateshead with around £8m-worth of the Class A drugs from Liverpool. But they were uncovered after police launched a six-month intelligence-led operation between March and October 2014.
Officers from the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) stopped the gang and seized drugs with a street value of around £8m and more than £100,000 in cash.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Colling from the North East Regional Specialist Operations Unit (NERSOU) said;
"This was a calculated network and the key players in the group directing those underneath them to transport money and or drugs on their behalf, between the north east and their Liverpool criminal associates.
"Those underneath them took the real risk, getting their hands dirty with ‘dirty cash’ or drugs. However, what is clear is that everyone who played a part in this gang will pay the price for their involvement.
"The total street value of drugs seized throughout this investigation is estimated to be £8 million. This clearly shows the level of criminality that the north east and the Liverpool group of offenders were operating at.
"There is a perception by some, that drug dealers live a glamorous life, living the high life with ‘cash rich lifestyles’. The truth is that drugs ruin lives and instigate other crimes within our communities, such as violence, anti-social behaviour and acquisitive crime, and this cannot be ignored.
"Our aim is together with our partner agencies and the communities, to disrupt and dismantle serious and organised crime, to remind those intent on dealing drugs that we will identify them and help eliminate the misery they inflict on our communities.’
"The message is clear; if you are intent on committing crime, you risk an early morning wakeup call from one of our teams and a future behind bars."