Fifth member of North East drugs gang jailed

image copyrightNorthumbria Police
image captionAnthony Sweeney, Yvan Nikolic, David Gloyne and Ben Cahill were convicted at Teesside Crown Court

The fifth member of a drugs gang, which plotted to sell millions of pounds of cocaine across north-east England, has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Melanie Towers allowed large quantities of the drug to be kept in her County Durham home, along with cash, and also acted as a courier for the group.

The 44-year-old was convicted at Teesside Crown Court of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Police said the sentences marked "the end of an intricate investigation".

Four other members of the gang were jailed last week following a three-month trial:

  • Anthony Sweeney, 34, of Crake Way, Washington, admitted conspiring to supply Class A drugs, kidnap, false imprisonment and assault and was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment
  • Benjamin Cahill, 30, of Doncaster, admitted conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was sentenced to five years and three months imprisonment
  • Yvan Nikolic, 56, of Rue Domat, Paris, was convicted of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and sentenced to 21 years in jail
  • David Gloyne, 37, of Plawsworth, County Durham, was convicted of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, kidnap and false imprisonment and was also sentenced to 21 years

Officers said they began tracking the operation after a shipping container with £2m of cocaine was seized at Tilbury Docks in Essex in August 2015.

'Fear and violence'

Gloyne, who police described as the head of operations in the North East, had orchestrated the shipment from Brazil with the help of Nikolic.

Sweeney and Cahill had been due to pick up the consignment but were spotted by security staff.

Violence erupted the following month after Cahill helped steal 27kg of cocaine from premises in the Sunniside area of Gateshead.

Having been kidnapped and assaulted by Gloyne and Sweeney, he escaped to a police station but fled in a car containing 2kg of the drug.

Officers linked the packages to the supply at Tilbury Dock and the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) joined forces with Northumbria and Durham police to share key information.

Sweeney, who had left the UK, was caught in Spain and arrested in October 2019, while Nikolic was caught in Athens a few weeks later trying to board a plane to Ukraine.

Towers, of Milton Grove, Shotton, was Cahill's partner at the time and was also arrested.

Det Insp Alan Turner, from NERSOU, said: "This was an incredibly complex case which ultimately shows the desperate lengths organised criminals will go to in order to run their illicit organisations through fear and violence."

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