DEALERS turned a Wearside flat into an illegal drugs factory to process, package and distribute high-grade cocaine, a court heard.
Police found a stash of the class A drug when they raided Joseph Lewins’ home in Malvern Road, in Lambton, Washington.
A hydraulic press, mixing agents and packaging products were also discovered.
Prosecutors claim the 53-year-old, along with Daniel Chisholm, 49, of Franklin Street, Millfield, Sunderland; Christopher Bacon, 31, of Ashwood Terrace, Thornhill, Sunderland, and John Somerville, 51, conspired to supply class A drugs between April and November last year.
All four deny the charge and are being tried by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court.
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 Sommerville are said to have been involved in a £12,000 drugs deal that went wrong, when the cocaine had to be flung out of a moving van because the police were on its tail.
Mr Perks told jurors the drugs recovered in that operation were nine per cent pure, within the usual range of normal street supply.
Mr Perks said the higher the purity of the drug, the closer it is to the original source of supply.
It is claimed the two kilogram, 68 per cent pure haul of cocaine – worth potentially tens of thousands of pounds – found at the one-bed flat in November had been picked up from in or around Somerville’s home in Sherringham Avenue, Newcastle, and taken to Lewins’ address by Chisholm in a taxi.
This was around the same time as Ronald Moon, 44, of Severn Road, Kirkby, Liverpool, was arrested driving away from Somerville’s house with a plastic bag containing £50,000 in cash in the footwell of his Jaguar.
Moon has admitted possessing criminal property in connection with the cash.
Mr Perks said: “The prosecution case is that £50,000 is criminal property, it is the funds being transferred by the defendant Somerville as part payment for the cocaine.”
At around the same time as Moon was being arrested, police executed a search warrant after Chisholm was seen going into Lewins’ flat carrying a blue holdall.
Mr Perks added: “The items recovered on a search of that address support the crown’s case that this address was being used as a factory to process high purity cocaine for onward sale to street level
“Inside the blue holdall next to where Chisholm was standing were two blocks of cocaine wrapped in tape.
“Both blocks were 68 per cent pure cocaine, in other words much closer to the source of the supply, much less adulterated.
“It is the prosecution case that the defendant Chisholm transported those two bundles to that address where they were to be further adulterated for distribution.”
Prosecutors accept Bacon was not as heavily involved in the conspiracy but say he helped provide some of the items, such as scissors, tape and a blender, that were necessary for the drugs to be broken up, cut and then distributed.
Mr Perks said: “The prosecution case is this was the onward supply of a commercial quantity of cocaine.
“The four defendants played their part in that.”
All four men deny involvement in the conspiracy.