[A]n organised crime group involved in the large-scale supply and distribution of class A and B drugs across Northumberland face jail.
The gang have been convicted for a conspiracy that saw them flood the North-east with cocaine and cannabis.
A six-month operation saw officers gather evidence of the drug ring operating out of a number of addresses in Blaydon, Winlaton, Burradon and North Shields.
Intelligence suggested the crime group was being run by Tony David Ross, 33, his father Anthony Thompson Ross, 55, and Brian Stewart Moulding, 38.
Police carried out a number of raids in October 2016 as part of the investigation, initially arresting nine men including the three supposed ringleaders.
More than a kilogram of cocaine which was being circulated by the gang was seized and a dozen addresses searched.
A professional cannabis farm was also found being run on the Camperdown Industrial Estate, Burradon.
After gathering sufficient evidence to pursue a prosecution, a dozen men were charged in connection with the supply and distribution of illegal drugs.
Yesterday (Thursday, July 5) at Newcastle Crown Court, the gang were convicted and told they face a lengthy custodial sentence.
A number of the gang had previously pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing. They were:
- Tony David Ross, 33, of Valley Crescent, Blaydon, guilty of conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs
- Brian Stewart Moulding, 38, of June Avenue, Winlaton Mill, guilty of conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs
- Scott David McKenzie, 29, of Briar Close, Winlaton, guilty of conspiracy to supply class A drugs
- Tony Wayne Trott, 29, of South Terrace, Sunderland, guilty of conspiracy to supply class A drugs
- David Bradley, 34, of Greenvale Avenue, Newcastle, guilty of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs
- Anthony Jessop, 28, of Ullswater Way, Newcastle, guilty of possession with the intent to supply class A drugs
- Steven Atkin, 33, of Briar Close, Winlaton, guilty of conspiracy to supply class B drugs
However, five men maintained their innocence but were yesterday found guilty by trial:
- Anthony Thompson Ross, 55, of Hanover Drive, Winlaton, found guilty at court of conspiracy to supply class A drugs
- Liam Terual, 24, of Union Quay, North Shields, found guilty at court of conspiracy to supply class A drugs
- Jason Snowball, 22, of Tynebank, Winlaton, found guilty at court of conspiracy to supply class A drugs
- James Madine, 43, of Milton Grove, Prudhoe, found guilty at court of conspiracy to supply class A drugs
- Robert Paul Stewart, 37, of Hesketh Way, Liverpool, found guilty in his absence of conspiracy to supply class A drugs. An arrest warrant has been issued.
Acting Detective Chief Inspector Don Gibson said: “This organised crime gang have wreaked havoc across the North East and we are delighted that they have been convicted of their crimes.
“Gangs like this often think they are above the law and that they will never get caught. They ran a sophisticated operation which took a lot of hard work from our officers to carry out an investigation over a number of months.
“The operation they ran posed a big threat to society, and these types of gangs target the most vulnerable in our communities for their own selfish gains.
“I would like to pay tribute to the dedication of all our officers who’ve worked on this case to ensure the perpetrators were brought to justice and will pay for the crimes they have committed.
“I hope this sends out a strong message to the public – nobody is above the law, and we will continue to actively pursue offenders.”
The men were given bail and will be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on a date to be confirmed later this year.