Police have revealed details of an investigation to thwart a £2 million 'cocaine conspiracy' to supply cocaine across the North East.
Following a 12-week trial at Teesside Crown Court, four men have been jailed for more than 50 years.
Targeted activity was launched in January 2016 in response to escalating violence on Wearside between members of an organised criminal group, Northumbria Police revealed.
Drug dealers, including Anthony Sweeney and Benjamin Cahill were supposed to pick up the 50 kilo consignment, which had been arranged for them by one of the defendants, David Gloyne. Gloyne served as the head of a North East crime group and had orchestrated the shipment with the help of his co-accused, Yvan Nikolic.
The pair had met in Spain, and Nikolic, who was born in Yugoslavia but now holds both French and Montenegrin citizenship, used his status as a prominent member of an organised criminal Balkan group to have the drugs shipped in from Brazil so they could be transported to the North East and sold.
However, Gloyne’s crew were spotted on the docks by security staff before they had a chance to recover their haul.
The cocaine was later seized by law enforcement and a major investigation began.
Cahill was involved in a plan to steal 27kg of cocaine he knew had been stored at a premises in the Sunniside area of Gateshead, police said.
When the theft was uncovered in September 2015, Gloyne and his deputy Sweeney set out to hunt down those responsible.
Cahill was then captured and assaulted by them, but managed to flee the scene and drove to nearby police station.
However, he had unknowingly fled the scene in a car containing two kilos of the stolen cocaine.
This was later found by officers, and forensic investigators were able to link the packages to the Tilbury Dock supply, and prove the kidnap was connected.
Sweeney, who had left the UK, was caught in Spain and arrested in October 2019. A few weeks later, Nikolic was caught in Athens attempting to board a plane to Ukraine. Both men were returned to the UK to face justice under the authority of European Arrest Warrants.
The final defendant, Melanie Bevan (now Towers), was also arrested in connection with the conspiracy. As Cahill’s partner at the time, Bevan would allow large quantities of cocaine and cash to be stored in her home, and also acted as a courier for the group.
On March 25, a jury convicted Nikolic, Gloyne and Bevan of conspiracy to supply.
Cahill and Sweeney did not stand trial as they previously pleaded guilty in 2020, but were sentenced following the conviction of their associates.
On March 26, Nikolic and Gloyne were sentenced to more than 40 years in prison, marking the end of a four-year investigation.
The group were sentenced as follows:
Anthony Sweeney, 34, of Crake Way, Washington, previously admitted conspiring to supply class A drugs, kidnap, false imprisonment and assault and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Benjamin Cahill, 30, of Doncaster, previously admitted conspiracy to supply class A drugs and was sentenced to five years and three months in prison.
Yvan Nikolic, 56, of Rue Domat, Paris, was convicted of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and sentenced to 21 years behind bars and must serve a minimum of 10-and-a-half years.
David Gloyne, 37, of Plawsworth, Durham, was convicted of conspiracy to supply class A drugs, kidnap and false imprisonment and was also sentenced to 21 years with a minimum term of 10-and-a-half years.
Melanie Bevan, 44, of Milton Grove, Shotton, in County Durham, was convicted of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and is due to be sentenced on May 4.
Speaking after the sentencing of Gloyne and Nikolic, investigating officer, Detective Inspector Alan Turner from NERSOU, said: “The conclusion of this case marks the end of an intricate investigation that required close co-operation between the police, CPS, and international law enforcement agencies. This was an incredibly complex case which ultimately shows the desperate lengths organised criminals will go to in order to run their illicit organisations through fear and violence.
"I’d ask anyone caught up this type of chaotic and violent lifestyle to ask themselves if it’s really worth it. I would also like to take this opportunity to inform those involved in this type of criminality that it’s not too late to get out."