POLICE who carried out surveillance on the drugs gang have revealed the lavish lifestyles enjoyed by their ringleader.
Alan Forcer splashed out thousands on designer clothes, fancy watches and expensive hotel stays, all funded by cocaine dealing as he claimed benefits.
Detective Inspector Dave Mead, from the Cleveland Police Organised Crime Unit, said: “We welcome the sentences handed to the four men today at Teesside Crown Court and I would like to pay tribute to the dedication and tenacity of the officers involved in what was a difficult policing operation.
“I am convinced that Forcer and Ryan were at the top of the network, with Elsdon acting as a willing store man. Mark Devine was a trusted courier who transported the high purity cocaine with a potential street value of £702,960 from Liverpool into Hartlepool, where it was to distributed onto the streets of Cleveland.
“The £45,000 of cash recovered is testament to the resources and cash that Forcer and Ryan had at their disposal. Financial investigations are ongoing and have already uncovered that Forcer was able to spend up to £400 per night staying with his partner at expensive hotels in Newcastle and in excess of £1,000 in cash in under an hour buying designer shoes whilst claiming working tax credits.
“At the time of his arrest police discovered four designer watches with a combined value of £12,375 and numerous high value items of designer clothing, which are directly linked to profits gained as a result of the supply of controlled drugs.
“Many people are struggling financially to support their families, in particular during the festive period, and will be outraged by the wanton spending habits of those involved in criminality.
“I would ask anyone with information regarding individuals involved in drug dealing or any criminality to contact their local police teams or to pass the information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
“Investigating skilled and well resourced criminals such as Forcer and Ryan is a painstaking process, which can take months, and quite often it is intelligence from the community that allows us to remove significant quantities of drugs from the streets and seize sizeable criminal assets such as expensive cars, designer jewellery and homes.”