Members of a drugs gang found selling cocaine to thousands of people in Newcastle have been jailed more than 16 years. The five men were sentenced to between two and five years and six months in prison following a large-scale police operation in the west end of the city.

As part the investigation, Newcastle West Neighbourhood Policing Team spent five months watching the drugs gang operate out of a number of addresses in Benwell. In total, officers observed more than 6,500 people visit the gang in order to purchase cocaine.

Following a series of late night raids, police also seized a quantity of drugs wrapped in cupcake casings as well as a huge hoard of weapons including six air guns, 90 knives, half a dozen axes, knuckle dusters and crossbows.

All five men were later charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs and later admitted the offences at Newcastle Crown Court.

The men have now been sentenced to more than 16 and a half years at the same court.

Chief inspector Barrie Joisce, who led the investigation into the gang, said: "This organised crime gang thought they were untouchable, that they were above the law and that they would never get caught.

"Their drug dealing made their neighbours' lives a living hell and the anti-social behaviour linked to their dealing had a significant impact on the local community.

"The operation they ran was sophisticated and it took a lot of hard work from our officers to carry out months of surveillance work. In the end it was our own operation that brought them back down to earth and we welcome the custodial sentences handed out today.

"The sheer volume of weapons we seized from one of the properties shows just how dangerous these individuals were and the threat they posed to society. Newcastle is a safer place with these individuals behind bars and we hope it sends a strong message to the public - nobody is untouchable and nobody is above the law."

Michael Conroy, 38, of Sungold Villas, Newcastle, was jailed for five years six months.

Walter Henderson, 53, of Meldon Terrace, Newcastle, was jailed for three years.

Paul Basey, 50, of Armstrong Road, Newcastle, was jailed for four years.

Karl Greenwell, 37, of Benwell Lane, Newcastle, was jailed for two years.

Barry Newton, 26, Newton Street, Haltwhistle, was jailed for two years.

Newcastle cocaine gang
Northumbria polcie