Two Newcastle drug dealers who ran an empire worth an estimated £300,000 have been jailed after their encrypted devices were infiltrated.
John Robert Gates and Andrew Brierley appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on Wednesday 24 May where they were both sentenced to a combined total of more than 16 years for their roles in sourcing and supplying Class A and Class B drugs.
In March 2020, law enforcement took down an encrypted device platform and infiltrated a haul of messages.
Officers from the Northumbria Police's crime department launched an investigation as part of Operation Sentinel into their activity and quickly began compiling a case against the pair.
The force's enquiries found that between March and May 2020, Gates had sourced and sold over seven kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated £300,000 and 16kg of Cannabis with an estimated value of £72,000 with Brierley’s help.
When officers arrested the pair, they were taken into custody and charged with drugs offences.
They later appeared at Newcastle Crown Court where they admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine, and conspiracy to supply cannabis.
Andrew Brierley, 31, of Allendale Road in Walker, was jailed for seven years and two months. John Robert Gates, 34, of Greenhills in Killingworth was jailed for nine years and seven months.
Detective Chief Inspector Marc Michael said: “We have made incredible strides over the past few years through our continued activity as part of Operation Sentinel.
“Brierley and Gates were observed over a period of time carrying out illegal business activity in plain sight, using their encrypted devices to buy and source cocaine, and a variety of other items like cannabis and MDMA to sell for profit.
“Their brazen and shameless behaviour has now landed them behind bars and their criminal cash and drugs seized.
He added: “Illegal drugs harm our communities by exploiting and manipulating those who are most vulnerable and we know the profits of their sales never benefit the neighbourhoods they are sold in – the are funnelled back into more serious crime.
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