Two consignments of cocaine worth over £100,000 seized by police - trial of eight men from across North East told
An alleged drugs gang lost two consignments of cocaine in six weeks to a crack team of police watchers, a court was told.
Durham Constabulary’s undercover surveillance teams of men and women with up to 10 years’ experience were logging the gang’s movements and backing up evidence with logs of phone and text calls on their mobile phones.
They tracked movements of vans used to transport the Class A drug using officers from the Cleveland and Durham Special Operations Unit before marked traffic patrol cars sprang the traps.
The jury in the trial of eight men, from Hartlepool, East Durham and South Tyneside was told that on December 7, 2015, a van with a quarter of a kilo of 98% pure cocaine worth £75,000 after it had been “cut” for distribution was stopped on the A19 after visiting the Haswell Plough area where one defendant lived.
Then on January 21, 2016, a white Ford Transit van which had visited Haswell was stopped on the A688 travelling south near Coxhoe, Teesside Crown Court heard.
In a bridleway alongside the A688 officers found a plastic bag with a purple towel inside holding an eighth of a kilo of 88% pure cocaine with a street value of £37,000.
Prosecutor Matthew Bean said that this time the police found a flurry of calls and text messages between the accused men followed by a rush of short attempted calls in the hour after the van was seized.
Many were from a phone registered to Gary Mitchell, 42, who police say played the lead role in a drugs conspiracy, he said.
The court heard there were calls to driver Jamie Parker, who later failed a drugs test for cannabis but was not charged with the conspiracy, and to the front seat passenger Dean Pringle , 34, who is on trial.
Alan Baines, 33, of Meryl Gardens, Hartlepool, and Graham Wilding, 33, of Warren Road, Hartlepool, deny conspiracy to supply a controlled drug of Class A between 2015 and 2016 alongside Gary Mitchell, 42, of Pinedale Drive, South Hetton: Stephen Horner, 24, of Frederick Terrace, South Hetton; Christopher Hickson, 35, of Gloucester Terrace, Haswell; Darren Gates, 49, of Chaucer Avenue, Biddick Hall, South Shields; Dean Pringle, 34, of Little Eden, Peterlee, and an eighth man, who cannot be named for legal reasons.