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12 September 2014, 16:28 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50
9 men have been sentenced for their part in a drugs ring which saw specialist officers make the biggest seizure ever of illegal drugs in the North East
Operation Patton was a North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) covert investigation into serious and organised crime, targetting an organised crime group in the North East whose criminal activities expanded across the UK and abroad.
The group were responsible for arranging the importation and supply of large amounts of Class B illegal drugs - mostly amphetamine.
In total, almost £500,000 of cash was found by officers as part of the investigation, and drugs including 30kg of heroin and 408kg of amphetamine, with a street value of £55 million were seized.
Michael Watts from Jarrow (Pictured below left) was sentenced to 10 years and two months in prison. His right hand man Neal Hoban from Stockton (Pictured below right) will serve eight years and five months.
They were both supported by Kevin Murray from Nottingham and David Faulkner from Northampton, who helped with the logisitics of transporting the drugs across the country. They sorted out importation of the drugs and storage facilities in the Northampton, Nottingham and North Yorkshire areas to keep the drugs in.
Watts traveled extensively throughout the UK and abroad to carry out the deals.
The rest of the gang used a furniture company to transport the drugs backwards and forwards to Europe, which enabled them to use worthless furniture to stash the drugs in.
Aaron Nesbitt and Kirk Anderson were both sentenced for their part in the ring and were given 14 years and 10 years in prison, respectively.
BELOW: CCTV used in the investigation