A CROOK jailed for masterminding a drug operation which flooded part of the North East with crack cocaine has warned police: “I’ll be back.”
Ian Coates, 37, issued the warning just minutes before he was jailed for seven years for his role controlling the gang, including his own son.
Seven men – including the father and son – have been jailed for a total of more than 21 years after undercover officers posing as addicts smashed their drugs ring.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how Coates’s team boasted to the officers about how busy they were and how widespread their operation was.
Nick Dry, prosecuting, said: “They bragged about how they were covering 400 miles a day, working flat out and earning very good money.”
The court was told how the gang would use a “dirty phone” to contact Coates Snr about orders they had for the Class A drugs crack and crack cocaine.
The drugs ring operated predominantly in the Hetton-le-Hole and Houghton-le-Spring areas of Wearside between February and June last year.
Undercover officers made a number of purchases, paying up to £40 each time for a gramme of cocaine.
In total, officers handed over £1,700 for the drug, as well as crack cocaine, as they gathered their evidence.
After Coates snr started to become suspicious of the transactions, police moved in, raiding the homes of the seven last July.
Sentencing Coates snr, judge John Milford told him: “When you committed this offence, you were on licence for a previous matter involving the supply of Class A drugs.
“You also included your son, who was just 19 at the time.”
Coates snr, of Wordsworth Avenue West, Houghton, was sentenced to a total of seven years and eight months behind bars.
Prior to sentencing, he mouthed “I’ll be back” to detectives in the court.
Coates’s son, Gareth, 20, also of Wordsworth Avenue West, Houghton, was jailed for 32 months.
Daniel Quinnell, 27, of Shakespeare Street, Houghton, and Anthony Hall, 21, of Seaham Road, Houghton, were both locked up for three years.
Neville Watson, 34, of South View Terrace, Chilton Moor, was jailed for four years, including time for an unrelated burglary.
David Rubery, 19, of Kirkstone Close, Houghton, was put behind bars for 18 months.
David Farrow, 19, of Market Street, Hetton, was given an 18-month sentence suspended for two years.
All had admitted charges relating to the supply of Class A drugs.
Detective Inspector Mark Ord, of Northumbria Police’s major investigation team, said: “This was a complex operation targeting a group of individuals who supplied both cocaine and crack cocaine in the local area.
“They supplied drugs in the community where they lived with a total disregard to the impact it might have on those around them.”