A DRUG dealer from South Tyneside has been jailed for four and a half years for his role in a plot to flood the North East with cocaine and cannabis.
David Thompson, from Hebburn, was send to prison yesterday with brothers Robert and Thomas Hall, who were sentenced to 13 years and six years respectively at Teesside Crown Court.
Detectives say Robert Hall being off the streets is a significant breakthrough in the war against drugs because he was a high-level dealer, with contacts extending far 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, County Durham.
The men were arrested in a joint operation between Durham Police and the National Crime Agency.
Adrian Dent, prosecuting, 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, County Durham.
Mr Dent told the court: “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, admitted conspiring with others to supply Class A and Class B drugs between January 2012, and May 2013.
David Thompson, 28, now of Bolam Avenue, North Shields, admitted the same charge.
Passing sentence, 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 £1m were involved.
“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.
After the case, Detective Chief Inspector Victoria Fuller of Durham Police said: “This group who have intimidated the public under the guise of operating a legitimate business are now behind bars.
“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.”
Inquiries continue to see if any assets owned by the three men can be seized as the proceeds of crime.