Tyneside dealers jailed after supplying drugs worth £1.5 million

Credit: Northumbria Police

Drug dealers who supplied more than £1.5 million worth of illegal substances have been jailed for more than 30 years.

Stephen York and Peter Harrison were sentenced to a total of 33 years in prison for their roles in a lucrative drugs conspiracy.

York, 42, of Falkirk, Killingworth was jailed for 19 years and 10 months for conspiracy tosupply 23kgs of cocaine worth £977,500 and 45kgs of cannabis worth £189,000.

Harrison, 36, of Ennderdale Road in Walker, was sentenced to 13 years and six months for involvement in the commercial supply of the same drugs, valued at more than £500,000.

Credit: Northumbria Police

Police also seized a total of £123,450 illegal cash from West Allotment, Newcastle linked to the drugs.

Harrison and York, who both plead guilty, were caught out when police gained access to their EncroChat, which the gang had used to run their network, and uncovered evidence of their offending.

The pair were busted when officers observed York posing as an electrician to meet associates, including Harrison who led a network of lower-level cocaine dealers.

With use if a number of safe houses, they had an established process used to distribute Class A drugs and grow cannabis.

Credit: Northumbria Police

Three men have previously been jailed in connection to the same drugs operation.

The investigation was part of Operation Venetic - a clampdown on organised crime which saw international law enforcement agencies working together to infiltrate encrypted devices.

What is EncroChat?

EncroChat was a secret operating system accessed by a secure password on Android phones. Each user of the platform given a unique “handle” made up of a noun and an adjective.

The handsets, which cost £1,500, could only communicate with other EncroChat devices and could have all their data wiped if handed over to the authorities.

Speaking after the sentencing at Newcastle Crown Court on Friday 17 November, Detective Chief Inspector Marc Michael said: “Organised crime groups like this ruin our communities because they sell illegal drugs, manipulate and exploit people and bring the threat of violence and anti-social behaviour.

“This network was supplying large quantities of illicit drugs, making huge sums of money and doing so while under the radar, using encrypted devices.

“York and Harrison knew exactly what they were doing and the severity of their offending is reflected in the sentences handed down. This has been a long and complex investigation and I would like to thank those officers and staff, as well as our criminal justice partners, who have helped secure the right result.

“As part of Operation Sentinel, we will continue our clampdown on organised crime and would ask our communities to work with us by reporting suspicious activity to police and sharing their concerns.”

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