Members of a violent drugs gang have been jailed for their role in conspiring to ship large quantities of amphetamine into the North East.
The men, who formed the North East faction of a national organised crime group, were intercepted by officers during a drug deal involving a counterpart from Scotland – with some members armed with ammonia, an axe and a machete.
Those involved were sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on Thursday (January 31) where they were all handed prison terms.
Dale Fowler and Brett Miller admitted conspiracy to supply amphetamine and possession of an offensive weapon.
Robert Held and Scott Walton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply amphetamine.
A fifth man, Owen Murphy, who was transporting the drugs from Scotland, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply amphetamine.
The surveillance operation, led by officers from the North East Regional Specialist Operations Unit (NERSOU), came to a head on May 10 last year when Murphy travelled from Scotland to Newcastle with 20 kilos of high purity amphetamine – a Class B drug – in his car.
Held, Walton, Fowler and Miller mobilised, travelling in a white Ford Transit van and a Renault Kangoo to meet Murphy, intending to take possession of the drugs.
Officers followed the men to Eastgarth in Westerhope and were confronted by Fowler and Miller who were hidden in the back of the Transit van. As the van door opened, Fowler was wearing a pair of latex gloves and brandishing a bottle of ammonia towards officers. Officers used distraction devices and he was detained and arrested alongside Miller. A machete and an axe were also recovered at the scene.
Murphy was also arrested, while Held and Walton fled. However, officers captured the pair two days later at an address in Whinbrooke.
- Fowler, 24, of Dilston Drive, West Denton, was sentenced to 19 months in prison for the drugs offence and 19 months for possession of an offensive weapon, to run concurrently, and ordered to pay £140 victim surcharge.
- Miller, 33, of Dilston Drive, West Denton, was sentenced to 14 months in prison for the drugs offence and 14 months for possession of an offensive weapon, to run concurrently, and ordered to pay £140 victim surcharge.
- Held, 30, of Dilston Drive, West Denton, was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay £170 victim surcharge.
- Walton, 28, of Woodbrook Avenue, Slatyford, was sentenced to 31 months in prison and ordered to pay £170 victim surcharge.
- Murphy. 47, of Winton Street, Saltcoats, in Perthshire Scotland, was sentenced to 22 months in prison and ordered to pay £140 victim surcharge.
Following the case, Detective Constable Paddy O’Keefe, the investigating officer at the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU), said: “This was a fast-paced operation where some of those involved armed themselves with weapons including ammonia, a machete and an axe.
“We have recovered 20 kilos of amphetamine, which had been transported from Scotland, and will now never fall into the hands of drug dealers operating in our region.
“We will continue to work hard, under the banner of Operation Sentinel, to protect our communities from this type of organised crime and put members of the criminal fraternity involved in the supply of drugs before the courts.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to recognise the professionalism of those officers involved in this investigation and the arrests who were able to safely resolve what could have developed into a violent and dangerous situation.”