Major North East police operation sees 'substantial amount of illegal drugs' taken off the streets

Substantial amount of illegal drugs and criminal proceeds taken off the street
-Credit: (Image: North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU))


A major two-year police operation has been hailed after seeing a 'substantial amount of illegal drugs and criminal proceeds' taken off the streets.

The largescale drug investigation was launched by the North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU) almost two years ago. Now officers have revealed that a total of 14 criminals sentenced as a result of the crackdown.

Detective Chief Inspector Daryll Tomlinson, of NEROCU, said: "This has been a significant operation which has not only seen 14 criminals face the consequences of their illicit actions but resulted in a substantial amount of illegal drugs and criminal proceeds taken out of circulation.

"This operation further demonstrates our continued dedication to tackle illegal drug supply and organised crime in the region. We will continue working with partners and our local police forces here in the North East to act on intelligence received, taking a proactive approach to keep people safe and fight organised crime under the banner of Operation Sentinel.

"We will continue to work with our partners to dismantle the criminal groups who try to profit from the sale and supply of illegal drugs, as well as ensuring those affected by drug addiction receive the support they need."

Adam Oakley, Callum Craggs and Richard Elmore are the latest to have been sentenced after the dedicated police investigation was first launched in March 2022. It was then when Oakley first came to police attention and was believed to running an illegal drug operation involving couriers, runners, suppliers, distributors and various stash houses.

Over the two years, NEROCU worked with Cumbria, Cleveland and Northumbria Police to execute numerous warrants, seize evidence and compile the necessary files in order to secure arrests, charges and subsequent convictions or guilty pleas from those involved.

The operation saw a total of £700,000 in cash and 14 kilos of Class A drugs seized as part of inquiries - with further evidence suggesting the group may have been involved in supplying a significant amount more.

Yesterday (Wednesday), the final three appeared at Newcastle Crown Court and were handed their sentences and joined their eleven criminal accomplices in facing the consequences of their actions.

Substantial amount of illegal drugs and criminal proceeds taken off the street
Substantial amount of illegal drugs and criminal proceeds taken off the street -Credit:North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU)

A breakdown of all 14 involved is as follows:

Adam Oakley, 39, of Sandy Lane, Skelmersdale, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and conspiracy to supply cocaine and was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

Callum Craggs, 28, of Irthing Avenue, Walker, pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced to three years and five months behind bars.

Richard Elmore, 33, of Carnoustie Court, Whitley Bay, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was sentenced to six years imprisonment.

Samantha Tait, 33, of Greenlea, North Shields, pleaded guilty to intent to supply Class A drugs and was sentenced in April this year to two years and eight months.

Rebecca Rowley, 30, of Falmouth Road, North Shields, pleaded guilty to intent to supply Class A drugs and was sentenced in April this year to two years and eight months.

Thomas Grimes, 34, of Fairspring, West Denton, was convicted of supply Class A drugs and sentenced in November 2022 to six years.

Thomas Mann, 34, of Sandy Crecent, Newcastle, was convicted of supply Class A drugs and sentenced in November 2022 to six years.

Martin Collinson, 59, of Belper Close, Wallsend, was convicted of supply cocaine and heroin and sentenced in July 2022 to three years.

Thomas Smurthwaite, 30, of North Road, Wallsend, was convicted of permitting a premises to be used and sentenced in November 2022 to 24 weeks suspended for two years with rehabilitation.

Anthony Reilly, 26, of Seabank Road, Wallasey, Merseyside, pleaded guilty to possessing controlled drugs with intent to supply Class A drugs and was sentenced in April 2022 to five years and three months.

Major two-year North East police operation sees substantial amount of illegal drugs and criminal proceeds taken off the street
Major two-year North East police operation sees substantial amount of illegal drugs and criminal proceeds taken off the street -Credit:North East Regional Organised Crime Unit

Ashley Makin, 34, of Cawdor Court, Bolton, was convicted of supply cocaine and in September 2022 sentenced to six years and eight months.

Lee Murphy, 38, of Alderley, Skelmersdale, Lancashire, was convicted of supply cocaine and sentenced in November 2022 to two years and ten months.

Liam Storey, 33, of Alfred Street, Byker, pleaded guilty to money laundering and possessing controlled drugs with intent to supply cocaine and was sentenced in April last year to five years and three months in jail.

Samantha Haswell, 29, of Dacre Street, South Shields, pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced in April last year to ten months imprisonment, suspended for two years with 200 hours unpaid work.

If you see anyone acting suspiciously in your community, or have any information about local crime, you can report it to your local police force or alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.