Final two members of multi-million pound South Tyneside drugs ring jailed - bringing total to 61 YEARS behind bars

The two final members of a multi-million pound South Tyneside drugs ring have been jailed – bringing the group’s time behind bars to a total of over 61 years.

By Neil Fatkin
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 2:47 pm

Paul Marrow and Baber Azim, have joined fellow gang members behind bars for the roles they played in the transport of high purity cocaine and amphetamine into the region via courier trips to the North West.

Following a hearing at Newcastle Crown Court Marrow and Azim were today (May 24), the last two members to be sentenced.

Marrow, 62, of Liverpool, admitted Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs and was sentenced to 11 years behind bars.

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Paul Marrow (left) and Baber Azim have now joined their fellow gang members behind bars.

Azim, 43, of Slough admitted Conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and money laundering and was sentenced to a four years and nine months behind bars.

They join South Tyneside associates Bernard Sewell, 41, of Hebburn, Carl McAlindon, 36, of Jarrow, Mark Hiscock, 46, of South Shields, David McFarlane, 53 of Jarrow who are also now in prison.

Gang lynchpin, John Allcock, 52, had already been sentenced to 21 years behind bars for his role in the operation. Allcock, who was residing in Spain, was arrested with the help of the National Crime Agency.

During the trial, Allcock and his associates repeatedly denied their roles in the conspiracy, which saw detectives monitor their operation between January 10, 2017 and May 31, 2018.

As part of their activity, officers seized more than £120,000 cash, 65 kilos of cannabis and mixing agents, as well as Class A drugs.

During the complex investigation which was launched by officers from the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU), Allcock and his trusted lieutenant McAlindon were monitored as they ran their illicit business, buying and sourcing drugs from members of a North West organised criminal group.

Allcock would regularly travel to Liverpool and Manchester to meet with associates and was observed visiting an industrial unit which the group had access to and suspected to have been used to store large quantities of Amphetamine – which he later bought and employed couriers to distribute across the region.

The sentencing of Marrow and Azim brings to an end the 22 week trial.

Both men would act as couriers, travelling to the North West before returning to the North East laden with drugs.

Marrow was arrested on September 15, 2017 on the A1(M) in County Durham. With the assistance of a drugs dog, a hidden electronically operated compartment complete with a trap door was found inside his white van and contained a block of high purity cocaine worth around £180,000.

In 2018, Azim was intercepted as he travelled through the Cleveland Police area and was found to be in possession of cash and a kilo of cocaine.

Speaking at the end of the trial Detective Inspector Steve Pescod said: “I hope this case sends a strong message to anyone who thinks they can turn a profit from supplying illegal, harmful substances in our towns and cities.

“Allcock ran a sophisticated and significant operation worth millions of pounds, which, thanks to the hard work and dedication of officers has now been shut down, and the proceeds seized.

“Thanks to this investigation, members of two organised crime groups, ranging from couriers to those leading the businesses were brought before the courts and held accountable for their shameless and despicable offending. I am pleased the jury have found them guilty and they have been given substantial jail terms, as these convictions undoubtedly make our region a better place.

“These men were brazen offenders who were working together to maximise profits, without a care for the vulnerable people caught up in their activity. Not only did they hide what they were doing through the use of encrypted phones and swapping sim cards, but also denied their roles before a court and refused to accept blame and take responsibility.”

Investigations revealed operation leader Allcock would regularly travel to Liverpool and Manchester to meet with associates and was observed visiting an industrial unit which the group had access to and suspected to have been used to store large quantities of Amphetamine – which he later bought and employed couriers to distribute across the region

The full sentences were:

John Allcock, 52, of Durham was found guilty of Conspiracy to Supply Class A and B drugs and money laundering and was sentenced to 21 years behind bars.

Carl McAlindon, 36, of Jarrow was found guilty of Conspiracy to Supply Class A and B Drugs and money laundering and was sentenced to 13 years behind bars.

Bernard Sewell, 41, of Hebburn was found guilty of Conspiracy to Supply Class B drugs but found not guilty of Conspiracy to supply Class A Drugs and was sentenced to four and a half years behind bars.

Mark Hiscock, 46, of South Shields was found guilty of money laundering but found not guilty of Conspiracy to supply Class B drugs and was sentenced to one year behind bars.

David McFarlane, 53 of Jarrow was found guilty of money laundering but found not guilty of Conspiracy to Supply Class B drugs and was sentenced to one year behind bars.

Glen Stoddart, 53, of Hartlepool was found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs, money laundering and participating in activities of an Organised Crime Group and was sentenced to five and a half years behind bars.

Paul Marrow, 62, of Liverpool admitted Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs and was sentenced to 11 years behind bars.

Baber Azim, 43, of Slough admitted Conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and money laundering and was sentenced to a four years and nine months behind bars.

Michael Vassallo, 42, of South Shields had been charged with Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs but was found not guilty by the jury during the trial.