Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Two Guilty of Role in Drug Gang Conspiracy

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Two Guilty of Role in Drug Gang Conspiracy

Article excerpt

Byline: GARETH LIGHTFOOT @GazetteCourt

TWO Middlesbrough men were part of a major cross-country drug dealing ring which operated with "forensic awareness".

Former steel worker Keith Hall, from Middlesbrough, was yesterday found guilty of conspiring to supply heroin and cocaine after a trial at Teesside Crown Court.

It was alleged the 31-year-old was involved in a Middlesbrough crime gang which cooperated and exchanged drugs and cash with a Darlington group, using a West Yorkshire courier route.

A second Teessider Adam Rooney, from Park End, also admitted being part of the drugs ring.

The Middlesbrough group was headed by Paul McQuade, who was one of seven men jailed last May for a total of 62 years, for their involvement in the large-scale operation.

A further two men, Mohammed Shaffiq and Ervin Kesler, from Yorkshire, have also admitted offences linked to the criminal gang.

Prosecutor Stephen Grattage said the criminals were embroiled in wholesale drugs supply, showed "forensic awareness" and used counter-surveillance measures.

He said they chose remote locations for meetings and used "clean" and "dirty" phone numbers, changing SIM cards and dropping numbers after seizures and arrests. He told of evidence from surveillance and telephone contact from the time of the deals in mid-2014.

Jurors heard about 1.5kg of heroin worth PS74,250 was seized from a bag by police in Middlesbrough.

Officers, working as part of Operation Deadlock found 87.6g of cocaine worth PS3,250 at Hall's home on Holtby Walk, Park End.

Hall, a self-confessed gambling addict, said he was a heavy drug user with PS39,000 debts and his life was "hell" at the time.

He denied being a dealer, conduit or liaison, saying he did not sell drugs, hold them or pass on messages for others.

He said he had no idea what others were up to and it was nothing to do with him. …

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