Washington drug dealer jailed after full year of police operation

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A drug dealer who dubbed himself ‘Tankmaster’ and facilitated the delivery of Class A drugs into the North East has been jailed.

Kyle Atcheson appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on Wednesday having already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.

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Atcheson used encrypted phones to organise the transport of the Class A drug into the Northumbria Police Force area while also dealing at street level.

Using the handle of ‘Tankmaster’, he struck agreements over the quantity of drugs, the price and payment method for illicit substances before organising the collection and exchange of cash.

Officers with Northumbria Police working as part of Operation Venetic began investigating Atcheson towards the end of 2020, with data from the encrypted devices examined between March 26 to June 4 of that year.

The messages revealed that on March 27, Atcheson spent £11,500 on the purchase of suspected cocaine at a location in the Walker area of Newcastle.

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He then later instructed for the drugs to be transported to a ‘safe’ place, with evidence also uncovering details of another exchange of 1.5 kilos of cocaine in the Wetherby area on April 4.

The investigation found that over the course of a two-week period, Atcheson spent £141,000 on acquiring at least 3.25 kilos of cocaine to be mixed and sold on for profit.

Atcheson was arrested at an address in Washington on May 20, 2021, and a search of the property led to the discovery of a small amount of cannabis and 33 strips of Temazepam.

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He was charged and made his first appearance before magistrates in South Tyneside in June 2022.

Atcheson, 31, of Rushton Way, Washington, has now been sentenced to 85 months behind bars.

Speaking after the conviction, Detective Chief Inspector Marc Michael of Northumbria Police said: “Cocaine is an incredibly addictive and harmful substance, the use of which directly funds serious organised crime and associated violence and exploitation.  We remain steadfast in our determination to seek those who supply it and destroy our communities.

“Atcheson took significant steps to conceal his offending through the use of encrypted devices, but the committed work of our superb team rendered this ‘precaution’ meaningless.

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“We have zero tolerance for drug-related crime in our Force area, and will use every tool at our disposal to pursue offenders.

“We will continue to dismantle and disrupt organised drugs and remove illegal drugs from our streets as part of Operation Sentinel, and we would urge anyone in our communities to report any suspicious activity.”