Jail for £1million drugs gang who planned to flood North East with cocaine and cannabis

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THREE men who planned to flood the North East with cocaine and cannabis have been jailed for a total of more than 23 years.

Brothers Robert and Thomas Hall were given 13 years and six years respectively at Teesside Crown Court.

Robert Hall

Robert Hall

Their associate David Thompson received four and a half years.

Detectives say the jailing of Robert Hall is significant in the war against drugs because he was a high-level dealer involved in the importation of cocaine.

His drugs contacts extended outside the North East to Liverpool, Manchester, south Humberside and north Midlands.

During 10 months of dealing, the Halls kept up a legitimate front by running their Blockrite Paving business from the North West Industrial Estate, Peterlee.

David Thompson

David Thompson

The men were arrested in a joint operation between Durham Police and the National Crime Agency.

Prosecutor Adrian Dent told the court the men used nine mobile phones in just a few months, changing them after each deal in a bid to avoid detection.

They were seen to hand over drugs and money at various locations, including Bowburn services on the A1(M) and Durham City Retail Park.

A kilo of cocaine was supplied at the service area to a man who was followed back to Manchester and arrested.

More than 27kg of cannabis was seized from the Halls after police traced it to a “stash house” in Easington.

Mr Dent told the court: “Our case is that Robert Hall was the leader of what was a drugs conspiracy on a significant scale. He was assisted by his brother, and by Thompson, who acted as their lackey.”

Robert Hall, 40, of George Avenue, and Thomas Hall, 35, of Paradise Lane, both Easington Colliery, each admitted conspiring with others to supply class A and class B drugs between January, 2012, and May, this year.

David Thompson, 28, previously of Hebburn and now of Bolam Avenue, North Shields, admitted the same charge.

Passing sentence, The Recorder, Mr Michael Slater said: “I am satisfied this was a well-organised, extensive and expertly put together drugs operation supplying cannabis and cocaine to the North East and beyond.

“In this snapshot of the operation of which we have been told, drugs with a street value of £1million were involved and umpteen thousands of pounds.

“It is inevitable offending such as this will be treated severely by the courts.”

The recorder commended the detectives and civilian workers for their meticulous preparation of the case.

Speaking afterwards, Detective Chief Inspector Victoria Fuller, of Durham Police, said: “We continue to target organised criminals operating at all levels to prevent them from blighting the lives of the communities we serve.

“This is yet another example of how effective partnership working can provide positive results.

“This group who have intimidated the public within a small East Coast village under the guise of operating a legitimate business are now behind bars.”

Inquiries continue to see if any assets owned by the three men can be seized as the proceeds of crime.