Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger has praised a regional policing operation after ten men were jailed for their part in an international drug ring that saw drugs worth £55m seized - the region's largest ever drugs seizure.
In 2012, the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) launched Operation Patton - an investigation into the large scale distribution and supply of Class B drugs by an organised crime gang operating in the north east. The group had criminal links across the UK and abroad.
As part of the investigation 30 kilos of heroin and 408 kilos of amphetamine were seized from a storage unit in North Yorkshire and approximately half a million pounds in cash was recovered.
On Friday, head of the crime group Michael Watts, 48, of Bedeburn Road, in Jarrow was jailed for 10 years 2 months.
His right hand man Neil Hoban, 52 of Casson Way, in Stockton was given 8 years 5 months.
David Faulkener, 54, of Belfry Lane in Collington (Northampton) was sentenced to 6 years.
Darren Herbert, 44, of Marshleys Court, Northampton was sentenced to 5 years.
Michael Li, 48, of Fieldfare Close, Cory, Northamptonshire was sentenced to 8 years 4 months.
David Drew, 48 of Woodside Avenue in Northampton, was sentenced to 6 years.
All pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class B drugs.
Kevin Christopher Murray, 39, of Weaverthorpe Road in Nottingham, who also played a key role, was sentenced to 11 years. He was found guilty at Newcastle Crown Court for conspiracy to supply Class B drugs.
Andrew Yates, 28 of Fountains Close, Washington was sentenced to 2 years 8 months.
Abdur Rahman Kahn, 38, of Balmoral Close, in Slough was sentenced to 3 years 2 months.
Both pleaded guilty to money laundering.
Aaron Nesbitt, 28, of Manor Way, in Stillington has previously been sentenced to 14-years and Kirk Anderson, 37, of Etherley Walk, in Stockton has previously been sentenced to ten years after pleading guilty to possession with intent to supply.
The NERSOU sees specialist staff from the region's three forces – Cleveland, Durham and Northumbria - work together to protect communities from organised crime.
Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: "The successful collaboration between the three north east forces and other agencies has taken a huge amount of drugs off the streets and on behalf of residents on Teesside I’d like to congratulate all involved in a well-planned and executed operation"
Posted on Thursday 18th September 2014