County Durham drugs gang jailed for 20 years

Robert Hall was said to be the main player in a cocaine and cannabis network that stretched across the UK

Robert Hall, Thomas Hall, David Thompson and some of the drugs and paraphernalia that were seized
Robert Hall, Thomas Hall, David Thompson and some of the drugs and paraphernalia that were seized

A haull of high-purity cocaine and cannabis worth more than £1m was seized as officers toppled a County Durham drugs empire.

Robert Anthony Hall, 40, from Easington, County Durham, orchestrated a “well-oiled machine” which brought cocaine and cannabis into the North East worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Alongside his brother, Thomas James Hall, 35, also from Easington, and David Thompson, 28, from North Shields, the group plotted to flood the country with drugs bought from crime gangs in Europe.

In total, officers seized more than three kilograms of high-purity cocaine worth more than £600,000, and more than £400,000 worth of cannabis.

Now – after admitting the conspiracy – the gang have been jailed for more than 20 years.

Robert Hall received 13 years, his younger brother received six years and Thompson received four and a half years after a covert operation was launched by officers under the codename “Operation Sledgehammer”.

Det Chief Insp Victoria Fuller from Durham Police said: “Operation Sledgehammer continues to target organised criminals operating at all levels to prevent them from blighting the lives of the communities we serve.

“This is yet another example of how effective partnership working can provide such positive results.

“This group – who have intimidated the public within a small East Coast village under the guise of operating a legitimate business – are now behind bars.”

The joint National Crime Agency and Durham Police investigation into the criminal activities of the criminal enterprise began in 2012.

Intelligence indicated a number of handovers were scheduled between couriers from Liverpool and Derbyshire crime groups and Hall’s criminal group.

Under surveillance, the crime groups continued to operate, with the couriers being arrested at each handover.

A total of five men have so far been jailed for more than 20 years and approximately £55,000 cash forfeited. A financial investigation is now underway.

Robert Anthony Hall and Thompson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A and Class B drugs in October 2013.

Thomas James Hall initially pleaded not guilty and on November changed his plea to guilty immediately prior to the trial commencing at Teesside Crown Court.

The National Crime Agency’s Mike Bolderson said: “Drugs destroy communities and these men had no regard for the misery and damage they were causing.

“They will now be joining their colleagues in prison.

“The NCA will continue to work with partners, both here and overseas, to ensure organised crime groups responsible for trafficking illegal drugs into the UK are held accountable for their actions.”

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