Gang moving cocaine from Liverpool to Newcastle face years in jail

A drugs gang are facing years in jail after after transporting a haul of cocaine between Liverpool and Newcastle.

Owen Watson, John Simpson, Matthew Walsh and Nicola Harland were all convicted of helping to launder money and deliver Class A drugs on behalf of criminal Mark Crame.

Police launched an investigation in 2018 into Crame as he travelled between Liverpool and Newcastle.

The 49-year-old was believed to have been in control of a drugs factory and after carrying out surveillance on Crame, police arrested him in July 2018.

Crame was found in possession of 2kg of cocaine worth an estimated £100,000 in street value, reports ChronicleLive.

Owen Watson, 44, of Sullington Drive, Netherley who was one of Crame’s couriers, was also arrested after attempting to travel back to Liverpool with £46,000 in cash.

Owen Watson
Owen Watson
(Image: Northumbria Police)

The drugs, which were seized from Crame, were sent away for forensic analysis.

Matthew Walsh’s DNA was found on the wrappings and so the 33-year-old, of Woodlands Road, Mossley Hill, was also arrested on suspicion of preparing drugs for transport.

As the investigation carried on, John Simpson was stopped at Newcastle’s Central Station after police found him to be acting suspiciously.

He was searched and found with £62,000 as he attempted to get on a train to Liverpool.

Matthew Walsh
Matthew Walsh
(Image: Northumbria Police)

Police looked into his phone communications and later identified him as also being one of Crame’s couriers.

Following the arrests, detectives on the POCT team began a financial investigation of their accounts that uncovered more than £30,000 in unexplained cash in a bank account belonging to Crame’s girlfriend at the time, Nicola Harland.

The 47-year-old was later charged with being part of Crame’s criminal network alongside Crame, Walsh, Watson and Simpson. Crame took his own life in September 2019.

Watson and Simpson, from Gosforth, pleaded guilty to the charges against them but Walsh and Harland denied any involvement and their cases went to trial.

John Simpson
John Simpson
(Image: Northumbria Police)

However this week Walsh, was found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and Harland, of Water End, Brompton, Northallerton, has been found guilty of possessing criminal property.

The group now all face a time behind bars when they are sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on September 13 alongside Simpson, 29, of Rydal Road, Gosforth, and Watson, 44, of Sullington Drive, Liverpool.

Harland and Walsh were convicted on Monday after a two-week trial. Simpson and Watson had both previously admitted being concerned in the supply of class A and possession of criminal property.

Nicola Harland
Nicola Harland
(Image: Northumbria Police)

Speaking after the trial, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Woods praised the hard work and tenacity of all those who helped bring the organised crime group before the courts.

He said: “I hope this case sends a strong message to the organised crime groups who think they can come into our towns and cities to supply illegal drugs.

“As part of Operation Sentinel, our officers are working tirelessly to identify and stop people involved in this type of criminality, and put them behind bars.

“Anyone seeking to make money from selling harmful, addictive illicit substances can expect to be pursued by our teams, have their operations dismantled and their drugs and cash seized.

“People like Harland and Walsh have little to no regard for the vulnerable people caught up in the middle of their actions. All they care about is profit. I am pleased the jury saw the truth and found then both guilty.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the officers and staff involved in this lengthy investigation and hope their efforts reassure the community that we are committed to tackling organised crime.”

Liverpool Echo – Liverpool News