Three dealers who conspired to supply cocaine across Newcastle jailed for over 32 years

Cocaine dealers (L-r) Antonio Chiarella, Liam Owens and Tony Owens
Cocaine dealers (L-r) Antonio Chiarella, Liam Owens and Tony Owens -Credit:Chronicle Live

Three drug dealers who conspired to supply cocaine in the North East have been jailed for over 32 years.

Antonio Chiarella and brothers Liam and Tony Owens were brought to justice after their illicit scheme was uncovered by officers investigating as part of Operation Venetic.

Chiarella co-ordinated the purchase and wholesale distribution of the Class A substance across the Newcastle area, while the Owens brothers were directed to collect multi-kilo packages of cocaine and make payments to suppliers. The court heard that both brothers were paid a wage by Chiarella for their involvement in the collection of drugs and the movement of cash.

From March 27, 2020, to May 29 of the same year, the investigation found the dealers spent more than £470,000 to purchase and distribute 19kg of cocaine. All three were arrested in March 2021, and were charged to appear at court the following February.

Antonio Chiarella and Tony Owens both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, while Liam Owens pleaded guilty to the same charge and possession with intent to supply cannabis. Chiarella, 35, of Bury Street, Salford, was sentenced to 14 years and four months imprisonment at Newcastle Crown Court, while Liam Owens, 37, of Benwell Hall Drive, Newcastle, and Tony Owens, 35, of Silver Lonnen Drive, Newcastle, were sentenced to nine years and five months, and nine years two months respectively.

Following the sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Marc Michael, of Northumbria Police, said: "We have always made it clear that illicit substances such as cocaine have no place in our communities. Cocaine is an incredibly addictive and destructive substance, and these dealers were aware of the illegalities and the damaging consequences of their actions.

Cash found by Northumbria Police
Cash found by Northumbria Police -Credit:Northumbria Police

"All three went to great lengths to conceal their offending, and this was superb work from our officers and the latest success under the banner of Operation Sentinel, our dedicated initiative to tackling serious and organised crime in the North East. We would ask members of the public to continue working with us by reporting any suspicious activity or concerns to us, not matter how insignificant they may seem."

Anyone who would like to report suspicious activity should use the ‘Report’ page of the Northumbria Police website or call 101. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.