dealers turned a Wearside flat into an illegal drugs factory to process, package and distribute £750,000 worth of cocaine, a court heard.
Police found two large blocks of the Class A drug when they raided Joseph Lewins’s home in Malvern Road in Washington.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the gang tried to shift the blame off themselves and onto another man, the late Stuart Mottram, known in Sunderland as ‘Benny the Brick’.
A hydraulic press, mixing agents and packaging products were also discovered at Lewins’s home.
Prosecutors claim the 55-year-old, along with Daniel Chisholm, 51, Christopher Bacon, 34, and John Somerville, 53, conspired to supply class A drugs between April and November of 2010.
Prosecutor Jolyon Perks told jurors Chisholm and Somerville had been under secret surveillance by the police in the period leading up to their arrests.
More than six months before the raid, Chisholm and Somerville are said to have been involved in a drugs deal when a block of cocaine had to be flung out of a moving black Range Rover because the police were following them.
The prosecution claims the 68 per cent pure haul of cocaine, weighing 2kg, found at the Washington flat in November 2010 had been picked up from in or around Somerville’s home in Sheringham Avenue, Newcastle, and taken to Lewins’s address by Chisholm in a taxi.
This was around the same time as a man called ‘Mr Moon’ was arrested driving away from Somerville’s house with a plastic bag containing £50,000 in cash in the footwell of his Jaguar.
Moon, of Liverpool, later admitted possessing criminal property in connection with the cash, the court heard.
Mr Perks said the prosecution case is based on the £50,000 being transferred by Somerville as payment for the cocaine.
It was around the same time as Moon was being arrested that police executed the search warrant, after Chisholm was seen going into Lewins’s flat carrying a blue holdall. Mr Perks added: “When police entered the property, Chisholm and Lewins were in the living room. Both were arrested and searched.
“Inside the blue holdall were two blocks of cocaine.
“In the bedroom was a hidden back panel in the chest of drawers, where electronic scales were stored. They were contaminated with cocaine.”
It was claimed the drugs were being held for Stuart Mottram.
Mr Perks said: “It is the prosecution’s case that any suggestion of Mr Mottram being involved is a concoction by the defence that is at odds with the evidence in this case.
“These four defendants conspired together to take part in drug dealing. They all played a role. Some played a greater role than others.”
Joseph Lewins, of Malvern Road, Washington; Christopher Bacon, of Wendover Close, Witherwack, Sunderland; Daniel Chisholm, of Sunderland Road, Gateshead; and John Somerville, of Sheringham Avenue, Kenton, all deny a charge of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
•The case continues