Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Cocaine Rife as Drugs Gang Took over the Local; Undercover Police Operation Smashes Supply Ring

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Cocaine Rife as Drugs Gang Took over the Local; Undercover Police Operation Smashes Supply Ring

Article excerpt

Byline: TOM MULLEN

A LOCAL pub was used as the base for a cocaine and cannabis ring smashed by undercover police.

The Stanley Arms pub in North Shields became rife with cocaine and cannabis dealing for more than a year, with drugs openly sold and used.

But now two ringleaders have been jailed for a total of six-and-a-half years after the undercover sting.

Regulars Paul Whitelaw, 44, and Anthony Christie, 27, unwittingly sold officers hundreds of pounds of cocaine.

Whitelaw once bragged he had spent pounds 15,000 on the Class A drug, which he described as "top toot".

Cocaine addict Christie boasted the deals made him "a very rich man," and allowed him to take five holidays a year, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

The pub, on Rudyerd Street, was also used as a base for cannabis deals, and the drug was openly smoked in the bar.

But when police launched Operation Geneva in December 2009, months of surveillance allowed them to identify key dealers running the racket.

Christie was arrested in September and Whitelaw in October. Both are now behind bars after pleading guilty to charges of dealing Class A drugs.

Four others linked to the ring have also been sentenced for cannabis offences.

They include Benjamin Linsdell, 31, of Kent Avenue, Wallsend, who narrowly avoided jail for selling cannabis to undercover officers.

Today, a senior officer at the centre of the operation said North Tyneside is now a safer place.

Supt Dave Byrne, said: "This is an excellent result for police and the people of North Tyneside. The sentences given today serve as a warning to anyone involved in supplying drugs - we will take action."

The court heard how Christie once boasted of being a bigger dealer than Whitelaw, telling an undercover officer: "Why go to the monkey when you can have the mule?" Whitelaw, who also dealt cannabis, was instrumental in selling more than pounds 600 of cocaine to police.

The pair were also sentenced for a burglary during which they caused pounds 16,000 damage to council buildings in South Tyneside, ripping

copper piping from the premises. …

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