Convictions for complex South Tyneside drug ring leaders

Those brought to justice Those brought to justice
Those brought to justice | -
It’s been a long process to bring the gang to justice

Convictions have been handed to six men involved in running a complex South Tyneside drugs scheme.

The member of the ring, which joined forces with a Merseyside OCG, have been convicted of shipping high purity cocaine and amphetamine into the region.

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During the 22-week trial, drugs linchpin John Allcock and his colleagues repeatedly denied their roles in the conspiracy, which saw detectives monitor and close in on their operation between January 10, 2017 and May 31, 2018.

As part of their activity, officers seized more than £120,000 cash, 65 kilos of cannabis and mixing agents, as well as Class A drugs.

During the investigation Allcock and his trusted lieutenant Carl McAlindon were monitored as they ran their illicit business, buying and sourcing drugs from members of a North West organised criminal group.

Allcock would regularly travel to Liverpool and Manchester to meet with associates and was observed visiting an industrial unit which the group had access to, and suspected to have been used to store large quantities of Amphetamine – which he later bought and employed couriers to distribute across the region.

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Newcastle Crown Court heard how the men attempted to evade detection by conducting face-to-face business meetings, as well as communicating via encrypted devices and also used a number of tactics to frustrate Police activity.

After a lengthy period of surveillance on the group, officers made their first move and arrested Liverpool-based courier Paul Marrow on September 15, 2017 on the A1 in Durham.

Paul MarrowPaul Marrow
Paul Marrow | -

With the assistance of a drugs dog, a hidden electronically operated compartment complete with a trap door was found inside his white van and contained a block of high purity cocaine worth around £180,000.

Then in November, further enquiries saw the recovery of almost £50,000 in cash after a targeted vehicle stop in Lincolnshire. A search of the van revealed the cash secreted beneath a fixed heavy-duty boot-liner under a pile of tools.

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The takedown of the group continued into 2018 when officers arrested two more couriers, Baber Azim and Glen Stoddart. Azim was intercepted as he travelled through the Cleveland Police area in possession of cash and a kilo of cocaine, and Stoddart caught in Swansea having travelled there with £250,000 worth of Cannabis, and later collecting £21,250 in cash.

John AllcockJohn Allcock
John Allcock | -

Allcock, who was residing in Spain, was later arrested with the help of the National Crime Agency in a final swoop by officers determined to bring the conspiracy to an end.

The group were subsequently charged with a string of drugs and money laundering offences which they continued to deny, and all stood trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

And following a trial lasting more than four months, on Friday they were convicted as follows:

  • John Allcock, 52, of Durham was found guilty of Conspiracy to Supply Class A and B drugs and money laundering.
  • Carl McAlindon, 36, of Jarrow was found guilty of Conspiracy to Supply Class A and B Drugs and money laundering.
  • Bernard Sewell, 41, of Hebburn was found guilty of Conspiracy to Supply Class B drugs but found not guilty of Conspiracy to supply Class A Drugs.
  • Mark Hiscock, 46, of South Shields was found guilty of money laundering but found not guilty of Conspiracy to supply Class B drugs.
  • David McFarlane, 53 of Jarrow was found guilty of money laundering but found not guilty of Conspiracy to Supply Class B drugs.
  • Glen Stoddart, 53, of Hartlepool was found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs, money laundering and participating in activities of an Organised Crime Group.

During the trial, two men pleaded guilty, they were:

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  • Paul Marrow, 62, of Liverpool admitted Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs
  • Baber Azim, 43, of Slough admitted Conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and money laundering.

And, Michael Vassallo, 42, of South Shields had been charged with Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs but was found not guilty by the jury.

Speaking at the end of the trial Detective Inspector Steve Pescod from NERSOU said: “I hope this case send a strong message to anyone who thinks they can turn a profit from supplying illegal, harmful substances in our towns and cities.

“Allcock ran a sophisticated and significant operation worth millions of pounds, which, thanks to the hard work and dedication of officers has now been shut down, and the proceeds seized.

“Thanks to this investigation, members of two organised crime groups, ranging from couriers to those leading the businesses were brought before the courts and held accountable for their shameless and despicable offending. I am pleased the jury have found them guilty and look forward to seeing what sentences are handed down, as these convictions undoubtedly make our region a better place.

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Marrow’s hidden vehicle compartmentMarrow’s hidden vehicle compartment
Marrow’s hidden vehicle compartment | -

“These men were brazen offenders who were working together to maximise profits, without a care for the vulnerable people caught up in their activity. Not only did they hide what they were doing through the use of encrypted phones and swapping sim cards, but also denied their roles before a court and refused to accept blame and take responsibility.

“As part of Operation Sentinel, our dedicated initiative here in the North East which tackles organised crime, officers at NERSOU are working tirelessly alongside their Force counterparts to identify and stop people involved in this type of criminality, and bring them to justice.

“We will continue to work with our partners to disrupt and dismantle those illicit operations seeking to make money from selling drugs, as well as working hard to ensure those caught up in the effects of organised crime are given the help and support they need.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the officers and staff involved in this lengthy investigation and hope their efforts reassure the community that we are committed to tackling organised crime.”

The group will be sentenced at a later date at the same court.

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