THIRTEEN people – including three from Sunderland – accused of being part of a drugs ring have appeared in court for the first time.
The defendants are alleged to be linked to a drug-dealing network including Sunderland, Hartlepool and Liverpool.
Robert Stevens, 56, of Hylton Road, Sunderland; Kirk Maddison, 30, of Gill House, Sunderland, and Paul Lawton, 51, of Dellfield Drive, Sunderland, are accused of conspiracy to supply cocaine with others between January 1 and March 20 last year.
Stevens also faces another charge of possessing cannabis with intent to supply on May 7 this year.
No pleas were entered and Teesside magistrates were told the case could only be dealt with at Teesside Crown Court where the three are scheduled to appear on Monday, August 11.