Final drugs gang member jailed

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THE last member of a multi-million pound cocaine and cannabis gang has been sentenced.

The 12 men were caught as a result of a lengthy surveillance and intelligence-gathering operation named Skyhawk, which ended with 200 officers involved in early-morning raids at properties across County Durham and Merseyside, in early February 2013.

Police said the drugs had a street value of more than £1million.

Sam Turnbull, 36, from Hetton, received a sentence of 11 years and two months, at Teesside Crown Court last week, while Alan Crawford, 42, of Houghton, was handed a nine-year term after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply drugs,

Ian McCabe, 43, from Pittington in County Durham, will serve more than five years in prison for his involvement.

This week, Philip Bell was given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, with probation service supervision.

Bell admitted having a “very limited” role in the cross-Pennines drugs.

The 33-year-old was said to have been “a buffer” between one Mr Big and another Timothy Lister.

He passed on information to a courier stopped on a trip to the North East with cocaine.

Bell, of Sultan Park, Hull, admitted conspiracy to supply Class A drugs in March 2012.

Judge Howard Crowson also ordered him to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work for the community.

The court heard that after his arrest by Skyhawk detectives, Bell was found with high-purity amphetamines.

A search of his home at The Willows unearthed a nylon bag containing white paste in a freezer.

Deborah Smithies, prosecuting, said the drugs could have made as much as £15,000 on the streets.

Kenneth Green, mitigating, told the court that Bell had made “a big mistake” storing them. Bell also pleaded guilty to possessing Class B drugs with intent to supply in November 2012.