Hartlepool men accused of being part of multi-million pound drug network

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EIGHT Hartlepool men are accused of being part of a UK-wide organised crime drug dealing network believed to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

The town men are among 19 alleged gang members from Hartlepool and the North West that were said to be involved in the trafficking of cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis throughout Britain on a massive scale.

The Mail understands a single seizure of amphetamine by police was valued at £100 m alone.

The men from Hartlepool accused of being involved in the network are Adrian Morfitt, 29, of Caistor Drive; David Garside, 29, of Hampstead Gardens; Richard Ryan, 35, of Marlowe Road; Neil Gutteridge, 29, of Gower Walk; Mark Williamson, 36, of Marlowe Road; Paul Rudd, 34, of Arncliffe Gardens; Darren Crossley, 31, of Galsworthy Road and Graham Mitchell, 40, of Danby Grove.

Each of the 19 defendants are jointly charged with conspiracy to supply the class A drug cocaine with other unknown criminals between February 7, 2012 and June 11, 2014.

They are also accused of conspiracy to supply amphetamine, a class B drug, between the same dates and between February 7 2012 and August 9, 2012.

A final count is one of conspiracy to supply cannabis, another class B drug between February 7, 2012 and June 11, 2014.

The investigation has been led by the Organised Crime Unit of Cleveland Police who accuse the gang of being involved in the production and distribution of Class A and Class B drugs throughout the UK on a massive scale.

Their cases were heard at Teesside Crown Court yesterday for an administrative hearing.

All but one defendant, who is from Liverpool, did not enter any pleas.

The rest were adjourned until October 17 and 24 when they are due to put in their pleas.

It follows arrests on June 11 that police said were the culmination of over two years of planning by three forces

On that day, four houses in Hartlepool were targeted by police in early morning raids.

Two more people were arrested in Wales and two in Liverpool with three further arrests made from Holme House Prison as part of Operation Roderigo.

All of the defendants, except one woman from Wales, were remanded in custody.