Major Drugs Gang Jailed

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Pain

A major drug dealing network has been smashed by police with a group of dealers behind bars today for a total of 32 years.

But the operation's mastermind remains at large.

Nine dealers of crack cocaine, aged between 17 and 62, were sentenced at Teesside Crown Court yesterday for their part in the operation.

Dean Nixon, Laura Byrne, Lillian Isodje, Carl Lee, Sarah Lindo, Kerri Lindo, Jennifer Monaghan, Jade Nixon and Ryan Slater all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

The court heard the mastermind of the network, known as "Donna", had not been prosecuted.

Richard Bennett, defending Monaghan, said: "There is one person who is missing from this conspiracy. Why she is missing I do not know. That is the person known as Donna. She is the linchpin."

The court was told that Donna would take orders on a mobile phone and agree a price with customers before getting them to meet one of the street dealers.

The nine convicted were caught dealing by police from locations in central Middlesbrough.

Christopher Baker, defending 62-year-old Isodje, said his client had begun dealing not for profit, but to get her heroin and crack cocaine-addicted son free drugs.

All defence barristers cited their clients' difficult personal circumstances in mitigation.

Dean Nixon, 25, of Laycock Street, Middlesbrough, was given a five-and-a-half-year sentence plus one year for a previous offence. …