EIGHT members of a Newport based organised crime group have been sent to prison for more than 60 years at Newport Crown Court today (Friday 29th March).

The gang was responsible for bringing in and distributing nearly £2m of cocaine throughout Newport and the surrounding areas.

The eight sentenced today are half of a 16-strong group of defendants who will be sentenced as a result of Operation Finch, which saw the gang being investigated for almost two years by officers from Tarian, the Regional Organised Crime Unit for southern Wales.

The arrests took place in June last year following a series of co-ordinated raids involving more than 120 officers on properties in the Maindee and Alway areas of Newport led by Tarian and working with Gwent police.

The gang used various premises in and around Newport to store the drugs while running a dedicated drugs line from a mobile phone and a courier service.

Detective Chief Inspector Julian Bull from Tarian said: “There is a human cost to the trade of supplying drugs, and we will work tirelessly to stop this. I cannot over-emphasise the dangers of cocaine and the harm it can cause to the community as a whole. It is good to know that these criminals are now behind bars and unable to continue profiting from the misery their trade brings to our neighbourhoods.

“As this case shows, someone who is perceived to be a small-time criminal can often be linked to a much larger operation, and the smallest bit of information can sometimes be the missing piece of the puzzle for our officers.

“This was a jointly co-ordinated approach to tackling serious and organised crime in the region between Tarian and our partners in Gwent police.

“Tarian ROCU focusses its assets on the most serious organised crime that occurs both across the southern Wales region and nationally”

“We will continue to target others involved in the illegal drugs trade and I urge anyone with information or suspicions to call 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, to tell us what they know.”

Iwan Jenkins, of the CPS said: “This operation uncovered significant amounts of cocaine being sold on the streets of Newport.

“The group was well organised with each person having their own role to play. The recovered drugs were of high purity.

“The CPS provided detailed advice from the early stages of this complicated investigation, resulting in these guilty pleas and verdicts.”

A total of 66 years and four months’ imprisonment was imposed at today’s sentence hearing.

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