Jamaican gangs and crack cocaine in the north of England
There are believed to be 6000 crack and cocaine addicts in the North who need to find £150m a year through crime and prostitution to fuel their habit, we can reveal.
A Sunday Sun probe has discovered that use of the class A drugs has soared while police seizures of the narcotics have risen by a staggering 825 per cent in five years, from just below 2kg to 16kg.
The real figure could be much higher as the most up-to-date figures were only available from Cleveland, Northumbria and Durham police forces.
In 2002, we described how the region was being targeted by notorious Yardie gangs, from Jamaica. Cleveland Police at the time denied this, despite Teesside Crown Court being told weeks earlier that Jamaican-born Andrew Williams had been sent by London Yardie bosses to establish a crack cocaine market. He was jailed for four years and deported.
It was the first of a dozen cases involving Jamaican criminals and crack cocaine heard in the North that year, the majority on Teesside.
Tony Pendleton, clinical co-ordinator at the North East Council on Addictions, said: "Yardies run franchises in places where there are low numbers of ethnic populations.
They contact dealers and get them to knock crack out for them on a commission basis. The dealers are happy they don't have to fight them as they have a fearsome reputation for violence.
"Anywhere where there is an established sex trade, such as Teesside, you see a link with crack cocaine.
"People are right to be very concerned as wherever there is crack cocaine, there's an ever increasing amount of crime."
Government figures show 0.2pc of the region's three million population are hooked on either cocaine or its deadly derivative crack . . . one of the most addictive substances known.
The Home Office estimates each addict needs £24,000 a year to feed their habit. Since 2002, Cleveland Police have had some major successes against drug barons with their Dealer a Day campaign.
A spokeswoman said: "Our figures have increased as a result of our relentless campaign against the people who peddle drugs of all kinds in our area.
"More than 2000 arrests have been made, in excess of 2360 operations have been carried out against people involved in drugs and officers have seized almost £2.5m pounds in drugs and £500,000 in cash."
Northumbria Police, which saw a big increase in cocaine and crack seizures, recently carried out a series of raids in Newcastle that saw 10 crack houses closed and 20 people arrested. Crack worth more than £27,000 was also seized.
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